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World News

King Charles is an influencer, but church can make a difference on climate says Christian campaigner

by Donna Birrell

The contribution of faith communities on climate issues is being highlighted at this year's COP28 summit with the inclusion of a 'Faith Pavilion".

Church and faith-based organisations globally are championing the cause of the vulnerable and stepping in to respond to the impact of the climate crisis. The pavilion is designed to enable faith groups to share and amplify stories of what they are doing around the world to inspire action.

Laura Young, a climate activist and Tearfund ambassador, is in Dubai and has been speaking to Premier about the role faith plays in tackling climate change: 

“Faith has a huge role... people look to faith leaders and to their church leaders, to say, ‘actually, what are we doing about that?’

“It’s really important that we are talking about this, not just on a Sunday, but through the work that we are doing, being influential climate leaders in our communities. We need to recognise that when climate disasters happen, and people are displaced or people need help, there are churches all around the world best placed in their local community to be that support network.

“We want to encourage churches all over the world to see how they can play their role, whether that's talking about it, implementing initiatives, or being some of the first responders when climate disasters hit.

“My faith inspires me to care about climate justice and consider what I can do to play my part in caring for creation and for people who have done the least to cause the crisis, yet are suffering the most.

"I'm excited that this year space has been created at the UN climate talks for faith communities and leaders to participate. Crucially, churches and faith communities are present before, during and after disasters. They have an essential role to play in strengthening the resilience of their local communities in the face of disasters. They can help strengthen social connections and resolve conflicts; bring hope in times of stress; raise awareness of risks and advocate for change; and offer help in times of crisis."

The Pope was due to attend COP28 but cancelled because of ill health. However King Charles has been addressing the summit telling delegates that the world is 'dreadfully far off track' in dealing with global warming.  Laura Young told Premier she welcomes his contribution and that of other high profile leaders:

“They are the original influencers. Lots of people look to them for advice, to see what they're interested in and for direction and so I think it's really important for all types of leaders to be there. We need celebrities, we don't just need climate scientists or United Nations or coordinators, we need everybody talking about this.”

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