Taking Action on Climate Now

By The Reverend Don Brown

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” 

Matthew 6:21

Irene Pang’s article in the April Edition of the Niagara Anglican, “Systemic Change Needed” touched my heart. Since we cannot change what is happening to our landscape, and with few clear guidelines from government or corporations to deal with the climate emergency, Irene’s description of her looking inside herself and her family — “the way they drive, the food they eat, where to invest their money, what to buy and what not to buy”— I found very inspiring. 

Changing our behaviour is part of taking climate change seriously.

While Irene knows that individual effort will not be enough, and that corporate and political decision making is necessary to effectively address the climate crisis, she shares her thoughts and contributions to lowering her own carbon footprint. Learning about things that contribute to the climate crisis provides us opportunity to speak up about them and to act.

It was heartening to listen to the recent Anglican Communion webinar: COP26, Divestment and Investment for Climate Justice. The participating Churches were from South Africa, New Zealand, Oxford and West Yorkshire, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Their main theme was divestment from fossil fuels as an act of social and economic justice. The urgency of their message is expressed in their vision of achieving zero emissions of greenhouse gas for their country, due largely to the burning of fossil fuels, by the year 2030. This underlines the need to act now and not wait till 2050. 

The Church in Wales declared recently, “We’ve opened our eyes: there’s no time to waste. As we declared today — this is an emergency.”

In Canada, three Canadian dioceses (Ottawa, Montreal and Huron) have declared that they have divested their investments from fossil fuel Industries. By contrast, our diocese has taken an Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) approach to its investments. Our global equity investment fund, for instance, seeks to reduce its carbon footprint by at least 50%, eliminate exposure to companies with more than 20% of revenue from coal related activities; invest in companies expected to positively contribute to the transition of renewable energy sources; and reach zero emissions by 2050. 

In the April issue of the Niagara Anglican, Irene offered us steps we can take in support of the General Synod 2019 Resolution that addresses the climate emergency by ending our purchase and use of single use plastic. 

In 2019, members of General Synod passed a resolution presented by the youth of our church. Recognizing that there is a global climate emergency, it encouraging dioceses and parishes to make the Baptismal Covenant and the fifth Mark of Mission a priority in our faith: “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” Our diocesan Mission Action Plan (MAP) prioritizes environmental justice in keeping with the spirit of this prescient resolution, and I hope parishes will take up this call to action too.

What can be done, needs to be done now, for “where your treasure is there will your heart be also.”