These are all things we want to see in our neighbourhoods. When we implement climate-friendly policies locally, we all benefit from an improved living environment and greater harmony with the world around us.
Globally, we face an enormous challenge to move away from fossil fuels that pollute the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. The latest IPCC report states that emissions need to have peaked by 2025, and to then decrease by 46% by 2030, for the atmosphere to remain within 1.5C of warming from pre-industrial levels. 
Simply put, if we don’t make significant changes in the next 3-5 years, we will have lost the chance to avoid climate catastrophe. We need to find new ways of living that honour all people and respect the planet and all that lives in it.
Looking Global, Acting Local
If we do nothing to stop a warming planet, the consequences for all of us will be enormous – but particularly for the 3.3 billion people currently living in climate-vulnerable countries. The vast majority of these people live in low-income countries, and it will be the poorest within those countries who suffer the most. Rising sea levels, extreme weather and crop failures are already ending lives and destroying land. Natural and cultural heritage is being eroded, meaning that life for those who survive is irreversibly altered.
For many, this is tied up with their very being, their spiritual identity, and their sense of belonging. Simon Kofe, the Foreign Minister of Tuvalu, delivered a striking speech to COP26 while knee-deep in sea water, to drive home what those in low-lying small islands stand to lose:
“In Tuvalu, our islands are sacred to us. They contain the mana of our people. They were the home of our ancestors. They are the home of our people today. We want them to remain the home of our people into the future.”
Tackling climate change is a matter of justice. Those with the least resources to cope will be most affected by these changes. It is estimated that there could be 1.2 billion climate refugees by 2050. A changing climate increases the prevalence and impact of poverty, conflict, displacement and disease. These issues cannot be ignored.
Changes need to happen at every level, in order for them to be as sustainable and wide-reaching as they need to be. Crucially, this involves governments, industries and institutions reaching net zero carbon emissions.
Net zero refers to the point at which the amount of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming) released into the atmosphere is balanced by the same amount being taken out. As we do not currently have the technology to remove large amounts of CO2 from the air, at present reaching net zero means reducing our carbon emissions as close to zero as possible. The world has been powered by carbon through the burning of fossil fuels for the last 200 years, so reducing emissions by the amount necessary requires a fundamental transformation of our economies, energy supply, transport systems and more.
Reaching ‘net zero’ has been a core goal of climate policy in the past few years. The UK government enacted a law in 2019 committing the country to reach net zero by 2050, but it hasn’t had full support across the board. We’re still a long way from meeting the interim targets set out by The Climate Change Committee, which holds the UK government accountable for its actions. 
National government, however, is not the only level of government with the powers – and responsibility – to act on climate change. In the last few years, local government has taken serious steps to address the climate emergency. 85% of local councils in the UK have set a target year for reaching net zero emissions. The vast majority of these target dates are much earlier than the national government’s own target of 2050.
If every council in the country were to reach net zero, significant progress would be made on the targets as a whole. But this requires tangible, practical steps towards change, and support from the whole community. That’s why we’re encouraging churches to be part of the change in their communities. When we all come together to seek the welfare of the places we are planted, we can build towards a global community of neighbourhoods that enable the flourishing of all life.
Is this something you or your church are interested in? Sign up to join our network of activists and hear more about the campaign.
 https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-working-group-3/, IPCC, 2022: Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, April 2022.
 https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/2022-progress-report-to-parliament/, Progress in reducing emissions 2022 Report to Parliament, Climate Change Committee, June 2022.