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Youth Column: 'Climate Change is Not Just a Trend'

Youth Column: 'Climate Change is Not Just a Trend'

Monday May 10 2021

Christine Meyer, a 17-year-old from Kintore Parish Church, calls on the Church to take action on climate change


As a young Christian who is passionate about social justice, I believe climate change is the biggest injustice of our time and if we don’t act now, the consequences will be catastrophic.

A recent survey by Tearfund and Youthscape found that nine out of ten Christian teenagers are concerned about climate change, yet only one in ten surveyed believe their church is doing enough to respond to the climate crisis.

This doesn’t surprise me. I first learned about climate change when I was only nine. My teacher was passionate about the issue and we learned to take care of the school vegetable patch, visited local apple orchards, and had a class toy who would go home with someone each week and report what we did to be more environmentally friendly. I would meet friends regularly to talk about the environment. I realise this was not the case for most generations, however it demonstrates how important this issue has become.

Eight-six per cent of teenagers surveyed said their faith teaches them to care about injustice and 84 per cent said it’s important Christians respond to climate change. Taking care of the planet is not just a good thing but something God instructs us to do. I can’t help but feel guilty about all the extreme droughts, floods, snowstorms and forest fires which emphasise our broken world. And it’s often the ones who have had the least impact on the climate who are affected most severely. It breaks my heart that our brothers and sisters across the world are suffering because of our consumerist way of living.

Climate change is not just a trend, a fad that will be forgotten in a couple years. Climate change is something the church risks losing young people over. My generation has had enough of the brokenness of this world and want to see and make a change. Young people are calling on their church leaders to listen, learn alongside them and act with integrity on this issue.

There are several ways the church can act. Firstly, encouraging individuals to be conscientious about their care for the environment. Tearfund’s Climate Emergency Toolkit is a practical tool to help churchgoers of all ages respond. Secondly, helping those already affected by climate change by supporting organisations like Tearfund who help communities thrive despite the changing climate. Thirdly, the church can use its public profile to lobby governments and large corporations to be more environmentally responsible. Shockingly, 20 companies are responsible for a third of all global greenhouse gas emissions, and the UK is the world’s second largest exporter of plastic waste per person.

Finally, we need to pray. Tearfund’s survey found 57 per cent of young people had prayed about the climate in the last year and 84 per cent are willing to. We need to thank God for the world He has provided, seek forgiveness for the way it is now, and ask what we can do to help fix it.

My church has organised an Eco group during Lent for two years. I’ve been given the opportunity to do a sermon on the climate crisis, and they’ve been overwhelmingly supportive of a litter pick fundraiser I held to raise money for Tearfund. There is still more we can do, we’re not perfect, but it’s a start and hopefully a catalyst for something much larger.

This is a crucial year. With the upcoming UN climate conference taking place right on our doorstep, climate change will be on the news and unavoidable over coming months. We, as the church, cannot sit idly by. We must be part of the discussion and part of the solution.

For more information on Tearfund’s research, ‘Burning Down the House - How the Church Could Lose Young People Over Climate Inaction.’ and to find resources to help your church, visit wearetearfund.org/burning-down-the-house 

To find out about Tearfund's Emerging Influencers Programme for 17-23 year-olds, visit wearetearfund.org/emerging-influencers/


If you are under 30 and connected with the Church of Scotland, and would like to write the Life and Work youth page, please contact us on magazine@lifeandwork.org