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Environmental Injustice and Economic Issues: WCC's Working Group on Climate Change

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A great tragedy of our present time and context is the act of "profiting from destroying the earth." Individuals and large corporations are making billions from this ecological vandalism. We are constantly taking the earth's finite resources without replenishing or restoring them. We are wasting and using up our water, causing pollutants to enter our environment, without thinking about the consequences our actions may have on the earth. Nothing seems able to stop this destruction as long as corporations make a profit and powerful people live comfortable lives.

Climate change is an urgent issue for the global community as a whole to tackle. Many religious organizations and faith communities are taking the heed of this ethical and existential challenge, and making climate change a priority.

The World Council of Churches (WCC)is one of the leading international faith-based organizations to have taken up this challenge, addressing it from the perspective of ecological justice and a deep engagement in 'eco-theology.' In so doing, WCC is recognizing that climate change is an issue of both ecological and economic justice. Climate change is affecting the poorest of the poor and displacing the most vulnerable communities. One can only deal with the issue holistically, addressing all of its causes and consequences.

Around 30 religious leaders working on Climate Change from around the globe have gathered in Wuppertal, Germany as part of the World Council of Churches' Working Group on Climate Change, meeting from May 12-16, 2014. This gathering has been organized by Guillermo Kerber (WCC) in partnership with Jochen Motte from United Evangelical Mission.

As the Climate Change Working Group meeting progresses, many urgent and overwhelming statistics, concerns and tasks are being presented to the group.

On May 13, 2014, I moderated a panel on "A Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, Contributions from the WGCC." During this panel, lots of pertinent issues of working towards social and environmental issues were presented and discussed.

Raphael Sartorius from Bread for the World, Germany, presenting the ETCF (Ecotheology Climate Justice and Food Security) project, said that the purpose of the project is to

link all the Christian educational resources to create easier access to knowledge, examples and curricular models. Networking is important to work towards climate justice.

Peter Pavlovic from the Conference of European Churches and the European Christian Environmental Network (CEC-ECEN) impressed upon us that it is of

immense importance for churches to translate the positive message of the gospel into practical aspects of life in individual and small communities and to dialogue with political decision makers.

Peter Prove, Director of WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, reported that we are now

faced with the millennial consequences of climate change and the inadequacy of our short term political processes to engage with that issue in an effective way. In this context, the involvement of faith communities and religious leaders becomes even more critical. Faith communities provide the millennial perspective and the social capital for sustainable change in addressing climate change.

It is becoming ever more important to recognize the urgency of climate change within our religious outlook on life. We cannot continue to ignore the topic of climate change while all of God's creation is suffering. We must be able to continue to fight for the freedom of all people from environmental injustice. We need to give climate change the high priority it demands. The WCC is taking a lead in this regard, and hopes to inspire all churches and faith communities to do likewise.

The global challenges we currently face are inextricably interlinked. Saving the planet cannot be separated from addressing economic issues. The two are intertwined and are not exclusive of each other as they are different sides of the same coin. We all need to work together to make a difference.

Creation must be saved and all of us need to take concrete actions. There must be serious plans for advocacy, theological engagement and enactment for any changes to occur in working towards saving the earth.