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Pastor Sandra Reis and President Maria Edwarda Titosse
Pastor Sandra Reis and President Maria Edwarda Titosse

Climate Justice Diaries: It's Up to Us

Wednesday February 16

This week's Climate Justice Diary comes from Pastor Sandra Reis and President Maria Eduarda Titosse from the Igreja Evangélica Presbiteriana de Portugal  (Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Portugal). 

The Christmas of 2021 in Portugal was the hottest in the last 90 years. The months of November, December and January were abnormally dry, with abnormally high temperatures for this time of the year. At the end of January, 54% of Portugal was in moderate drought, 34% in severe drought, 11% in extreme drought. Climate change: it's a reality.

The COP26 summit was a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the climate commitment a reality. It is important to address this problem in a dual perspective:  by collective, political, economic governmental decisions, and also by reinforcing a personal behaviour responsibility. In my opinion both are crucial to address this issue. It is essential that countries and multinationals make real effective commitments, and it is vital that churches and each one of us have a prophetic voice and a changing praxis towards this sin.

The Church must be aware that climate changes affect rich and poor unequally. Poor countries experience food insecurity and unprecedented droughts and storms. Extreme weather conditions become increasingly normal. The wealthy have funds or insurance to cover the damages, the poor stay and suffer. Sometimes what is lost, is lost forever.

The summit was extremely important, and now it's up to us to keep an advocacy voice defending creation and cultivating self-awareness. We still have a long way to go so that people in European countries, more than knowing the facts and consequences,  start to make different choices:  my daily choices, my way of life is the direct cause of climate change at local, regional and global level. There is little individual sensitivity to this issue.

"It's just one more bag, or one more t-shirt or jacket, one more new appliance..." So, millions of other men and women, inhabitants of this planet think. Or maybe we don't even think about it. We live to experience immediate pleasure, the satisfaction of our desires, we live for ourselves.

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moved upon the earth.” Genesis 1:28

The book of Genesis ends the narrative of creation giving human beings power, and dominion over all creation. We assumed that this power was to exploit and destroy. God's power was used to give life, to nourish, to bless. We´ve received this gift and instead of caring we destroyed. It's time to change this mindset. It's not only the responsibility of politicians and governments.

Change will only happen when I do it differently, when I assume that the power God has given me to enjoy creation is first and foremost the responsibility to care for, look after and sustain it. Change has to start within me. An education for the care of creation is urgent, an effective and individual change of behaviour is urgent: no, it is not just one more bag, one more sweater or just one more new appliance. The things we buy and throw away use precious resources that are taken from the poor, and the pollution we make affects the whole planet.

Our choices of how we wear out resources, increase pollution and promote habitat destruction. As Christians we pray: “May your kingdom come, may your will be done”. So, we are called to build God’s kingdom, globally, governmentally, personally. To care for creation, and to work to transform any unjust and exploitative structures that harm the earth and its people. It's up to me, it’s up to you, it´s up to us.

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Climate Justice Diaries: Church of Scotland partners from around the world explore the impact of climate change, and what is being done to help. 

Per Ivar Våje of the Church of Norway says tackling climate change is a question of 'political will'
Updates from Church partners following the deadly cyclone in Malawi and Mozambique
The Rev Sharon Hollis reflects on the eruption and tsunami which devastated Tonga
Dr Ruth Padilla DeBorst examines how climate change will drive migration
Margaret Pang reflects on attending COP26 on behalf of the Boys' Brigade
Maness Nkhata from Malawi describes how climate change is affecting subsistence farmers.
Keith and Ida Waddell highlight how those least to blame for climate change are most at risk.
Joel Hafvenstein explains how climate change is impacting farming communities in Nepal.
Gorden Simango on how the crisis is affecting the poorest in Africa.