Quakers in the World

Quakers in the World

Climate Change

In 2014, three Quaker organisations (QUNO, FCNL and QEW) published a statement entitled ‘Facing the challenge of climate change’. It called on Friends to recognise the moral imperative of acting on this challenge, stating:
We recognize a personal and collective responsibility to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable peoples now, and all our future generations, do not suffer as a consequence of our actions.  We see this as a call to conscience.

 The statement concludes:

We seek meaningful commitments from our leaders and ourselves, to address climate change for our shared future, the Earth and all species, and the generations to come.  We see this Earth as a stunning gift that supports life.  It is our only home. Let us care for it together.

Many other Quaker bodies have since added their signatures. The statement is regularly updated to reflect this; the current version is at the link below.

QUNO’s response to this call is its Human Impacts of Climate Change programme. This focuses on the impact of climate change on people’s lives and works to ensure that the rights and dignity of all are upheld. It sees the challenge of climate change in a peace and justice context, connected with all other areas of QUNO’s past and present activity - peacebuilding, human rights, economic justice, food security and much else.  QUNO is regularly present at climate change negotiations, deploying its well-honed tools of non-formal diplomacy to foster off the record dialogue between negotiators, thereby helping achievable ways forward to emerge. QUNO also produces well informed resources for others to use as well as themselves, including a briefing document outlining the key ideas of climate science and a ‘negotiators toolkit’. These and other resources can be found on the Quakers and Climate Change Worldwide website.

FCNL calls its work on climate change ‘Working for an Earth Restored’. Amongst its current activities is helping to build the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the US Congress. And it is training young community organisers to build local support for climate change actions, through its Advocacy Corps program.

QEW is a network of North American Friends, and others of like mind, addressing climate change by working to change the attitudes, values, identity and worldview that they believe underlie much environmental destruction.  QEW encourages local Earthcare groups to be established and to thrive, and enables sharing of their stories, mutual learning, and discussion of the concerns that arise.

FWCC, Quakers global consultative committee, was among the first additional signatories. It was well aware of the QUNO/FCNL/QEW originated statement, as its key role is to foster communication of ideas around the Quaker world and beyond. One of the ways it does this is through bringing together Friends from many different countries and traditions in ‘World Gatherings’. Climate change and related justice issues were the focus of the two most recent of these (Kabarak, Kenya in 2012, and Pisac, Peru in 2016), both of which issued calls for action across the Quaker world. In 2017, following on from this, FWCC set up its sustainability communications initiative. This has four components – (a) gathering and organising information about Quaker action on the part of local meetings and groups around the world, (b) gathering and organising information on the impact of climate change on the lives of Quakers and their communities, (c) fostering dialogue and collaboration and learning, and (d) disseminating all of these. 

The climate change related initiatives summarised above include activities at international, national and local levels and ways of connecting them. They enable Friends already deeply affected by climate change to touch the hearts and consciences of those who have been little affected hitherto. They can lead to shared work, and to interventions that are well-informed.

All over the Quaker world, small in numbers though it is, action is being taken by local meetings, yearly meetings and other groups, often working with others in their respective communities. Some work on specific climate change-related topics such as divestment from fossil fuels, carbon fees, transport, and use of green energy. Many individuals, and groups strive to adopt lifestyles that are mindful of the impact on climate change. Some, such as Earth Quaker Action Teams, use nonviolent direct action to protest against developments that are contributing to  climate change. Some, such as The Quaker Institute for the Future, focus on research and policy development. More information about some of these actions can be found via the links at the side and below.
Print this article