Two Christian climate activists, Laura Young and Jessica Bwali, will be attending COP27 in Egypt next month. Laura, from Scotland, and Jessica, from Zambia have partnered with Christian humanitarian charity Tearfund, to call for action on the climate crisis. This week, during Premier’s Missions Week they share their passion for campaigning on climate justice.
I am from Zambia and I’m excited that the COP27 climate talks will be coming to Africa and learning from my continent. For us, climate change is not a discussion topic; it’s an emergency, an urgent reality. In Zambia, a country that has contributed just 0.02 per cent to global emissions, a warming planet means disappearing rainy seasons and failing crops.
It’s easy to be both a Chrisitan and a campaigner on climate change because I am required to do it. I’m not doing something without knowing or realising what I’m doing, but to me it is going way back to a mandate I’ve been given to look after the Earth.
I know I am commanded and required as a Christian to tend for the Earth. The Bible starts with God telling mankind to take care of the garden of Eden. I’m commanded to be a good steward of the Earth which means respecting wildlife and marine life. We’re not meant to be encroaching in the spaces of wildlife, cutting down trees or throwing harmful substances in the sea.
For us, climate change is not a discussion topic; it’s an emergency, an urgent reality.
Look at fruit for example, you have to plant the tree, bush or vine, water them and make sure they have the right resources to the point where they can bear fruit. Then they give you a yield and you benefit. So take care of the earth and the earth will take care of you. It’s my mission to take care of the place where I am living. I want to take care of my community, my province, my country and my continent.
At first I thought there was no connection for me between being a Christian and my mission of campaigning on climate change. The church wasn’t a place for creation care or deep conversations about climate change, instead my studies at school and university were. However, I was challenged to think: how could I be the voice for the climate and God’s creation in my church where it was lacking? Now it’s hard to see how they don’t connect.
From Genesis and creation, all the way through the Bible, we hear of the goodness of creation, the responsibility we have to care for it and the call to justice and love for our neighbours.
How could I be the voice for the climate and God’s creation in my church where it was lacking?
The campaigning around climate change can feel like a cynical place but it must be done with hope. We must know that God is with us through everything that we do and also remember we have the power of prayer to help us in our mission. I will be at COP27 in person as a Scottish climate activist and I will be representing the younger generation and the Scottish people who aren’t able to attend this event, like they could in Glasgow.
I will be continuing to hold Scotland and the wider UK to account even though COP is no longer on our doorstep. I hope to encourage the media and organisations back in Scotland and the UK to talk about the climate. COP27 will be a chance to see another COP and hopefully to continue the work and the progress made last year.