The Quaker United Nations Office’s summer school program returns in person from 3-14 July 2023. Taking place at the heart of international governance, the 12-day residential program in Geneva is an opportunity for young people to learn about QUNO’s work, multilateral governance, and some of the most pressing international politics of our day, including the climate crisis. Apply by March 3rd. Click here to learn more about the program. Applications and reference letters can be accessed here.
Quaker Peace and Social Witness has shared that on 22 September, individuals were invited to participate in Loss and Damage Action Day. Last week, people around the world stood in solidarity with those living under the worst conditions of the climate crisis and called for “polluters to pay up.” As rich countries and large emitters of greenhouse gas emissions continue to knowingly damage the planet and threaten the well being of the earth’s most vulnerable, Quakers continue to call for urgent, sustainable and transformative climate action.
Photo by Michael Preston
Loss and Damage refers specifically to the negative impacts of climate change that have already been experienced. It also refers to those losses that have yet to occur but inevitably will. Often the people most impacted are already the poorest and most vulnerable inhabitants of earth who have contributed the least to the climate crisis. On the 22nd, hundreds of Quakers and others came together across the United Kingdom, including as part of a walk of witness from St. John’s Church, Waterloo, to Parliament Square, in order to increase pressure on the largest polluters to be responsible for the consequences of their actions.
Photo by Michael Preston
As the climate crisis continues to be increasingly felt around the world, it is more important than ever to put pressure on those most responsible. To stand in solidarity at any time of the year with those most impacted by climate change, here are a few simple actions you can take:
1. Write to your national representatives to tell them about how important it is to fund loss and damage.
2. Hold a short screening of “The Global Story of Climate Change, Loss and Damage- and Who Should Pay for It” to share with friends and family the importance of polluters paying
3. Share your own #PayUp4Loss&Damage post on social media
4. Engage with future climate change justice related events in your community
5. Familiarize yourself with the People’s Climate Empowerment Series and share it with your community
Photos by Michael Preston
In August 2022, QUNO submitted to a consultation on “Net Zero” to the United Nations Secretary General. This consultation emphasized the need for real transformation of the root causes driving climate change, and avoidance of “greenwashing” under some “net zero” approaches. In particular, the submission drew attention to the need for rapid reduction and use of fossil fuels for a safer chance to remain within a 1.5C temperature rise limit. Along with highlighting the need for rapid reduction, the submission draws attention to threats in renewable energy investment being sidelined by investment into geo-engineering such as off-sets and carbon capture storage, the latter technology being expensive, not yet available to scale, prone to emission leakage and enabling ongoing fossil fuel extraction and burning activities. QUNO’s submission draws attention to the actions we can take to achieve net zero emissions and emphasizes the importance of conserving and restoring ecosystems.
To read the entire submission, click here.
The Closing Minute of the Living Witness Gathering at Woodbrooke, 26-29 August 2022
We are 63 Quakers gathered from across Britain, with a sense of urgency and under concern.
Addressing all Friends, as far as we can reach. We will outline our experience, own our own response, and issue a call to action.
We have heard clearly, with hope and excitement as well as fear and grief, an acute sense that this is an extraordinary time – a time of enormous challenge which can change us profoundly in ways we need to change. It is the great, holy work of our time, it is our privilege to be part of it and we must prepare our spirit for what is coming.
The climate and ecological crisis changes everything.
We value the work which is being done by Yearly Meeting staff and Woodbrooke on climate justice and encourage Friends to participate. We also see clearly that there is a need for grassroots action/response to the climate and ecological crisis in addition to that currently embodied in YM and Woodbrooke structures.
Local and area meetings are aware of the urgency and much is happening, both within Quakerism and beyond. Meeting for Worship isn’t just a place to feel comfortable, but a crucible in which we scrutinize our lives and see how they can be aligned more closely to our faith.
Arising from this gathering we know that there isn’t one right thing to do, the important thing is to do our best, and not give up. We each commit to listen to each other, love and support each other, work and worship together. We will find ways to ground ourselves and heal ourselves, and build resilience and inclusion wherever we can.
We carry forward from this gathering many strands of work, both large and small. We recognise that injustice in the ownership and control of resources raises questions about our entire political and economic system. We commit to work with children and young people; we have a concern to address the current cost-of-living crisis, including offering our meeting houses as warm refuges; we make a commitment to support those taking direct action; we will respond to promptings to work more on food and biodiversity; and we are led to support local communities in becoming carbon neutral, alongside many other ideas and actions.
We believe Faith groups can take a lead which will help the nation listen, and Quakers must play our part in this. We would like to see an Interfaith commitment to climate justice leading up to the next general election so that incoming government is clearly focused on this issue.
The last time Quakerism renewed itself was the 1895 conference which became the basis of 20th century liberal Quakerism. Quakers had to reorientate their faith.
Today, we are a similar position. Rather than evolutionary science tearing up our sense of the past, we hear the prophetic voice of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that is tearing up our sense of the future and ending the notion of the inevitability of growth.
The science and the events it chronicles, together with our increasing awareness of the legacy of extractive colonialism, are once again calling on us to renew our faith. This is the context of our gathering. We open ourselves to this pregnant sense of the present. Quakers and Living Witness can be midwives of the spirit.
The universe is participatory, there are no bystanders. Our commitment to climate justice encourages us to see everything we do as something which is of god or against god. We are called to be whole with creation and act on the Truth which we find.
This month many in the international sphere are joining the meetings of the Stockholm +50, commemorating the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. Colleagues from QUNO Geneva will be joining this event marks, which marks 50 years of global environmental action. AT the meeting, QUNO’s Peace and Disarmament Team are joining advocacy efforts to make the case for why human rights and conflict sensitivity are central to sustainable and just responses to plantary crisis. The team write:
Stockholm+50 presents an urgent opportunity for policymakers to make bold decisions on climate change and the environment. Our planetary crises have impacted every element of our global systems and our responses must be cross-sectoral in their approach. How we respond to these challenges can also be an opportunity to cooperate and build peace.
We share these policy messages on behalf of a group of 18 organizations and nearly 30 individuals representing the Environment, Climate, Conflict and Peace (ECCP) group at the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform, containing bold and practical policies for action at Stockholm +50 and beyond.
Peace and conflict sensitivity are inextricably linked to environmental policy because:
- The environment and policies around it can fuel conflict.
- Damage from conflict has a significant negative impact on the natural environment.
- Cooperation to respond to climate change and manage natural resources can contribute to building peace.
- A just transition and prosperity for all is realised by enhancing peace.
- Responding to environmental and climate challenges requires an interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach.
The responsibility of the private sector in environmental policy:
We would also like to take this opportunity to highlight the role and responsibilities of private sector actors – as key stakeholders in taking sustainable and just environmental and climate action by:
- Conducting ongoing conflict mapping and human rights and environmental impact due diligence assessments (HRDD) of business activities throughout supply chains and investments and ensure that their activities are in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and ensuring exit strategies prevent and mitigate harm.
- Ensuring meaningful engagement and inclusive consultation of affected communities, including human rights and environmental defenders, small-holders, women, indigenous people and youth; and enhancing transparency by making information on business activities publicly accessible and easily understandable,
- Taking steps to ensure that their investment decisions are consistent with a pathway toward a low-carbon economy and are committed to reducing endless growth through adoption of a degrowth business model.
For further information see the team’s latest blog: “Stockholm+50: why human rights and conflict sensitivity are central to sustainable & just responses to planetary crisis” & their contribution to the White Paper on Environmental Peacebuilding “The case for human rights & conflict sensitive approaches to business activities’ – a joint contribution to the future of environmental peacebuilding”, both written with Swedwatch and Frient.
Below, you can also read a 2-page policy brief on building conflict-sensitivity into environmental policy.
The Quaker Institute for the Future (QIF) was established in 2003 inspired by Kenneth Boulding’s Quaker Studies on Human Betterment and his call for a research institute focused on the future. QIF has sponsored a series of collaborative research projects, including an annual Summer Research Seminar, and published research findings in thirteen books <quakerinstitute.org>. In cognizance of humanity’s (and our planet’s) current climate emergency, QIF’s Board of Trustees recently approved an inspiring epistle using the following language: “As the world has gone from climate change to climate crisis to climate emergency, we, the QIF Board of Trustees, find that climate change affects every aspect of our work. The time in which nations and citizens of the world can yet act to mitigate the worst effects of climate change is rapidly vanishing. In the spirit of Quaker tradition, we have prepared this epistle in the hope that it may inspire Friends in solidarity with truth seeking and in their discernment on witness and action.”
The Epistle [LINK]
Magpie is the Barrydale based art collective by artists and social entrepreneurs Scott B. Hart and Shane A. Petzer. Working in their studio and gallery in the Western Cape of South Africa, Scott and Shane produce art, craft and bespoke creations centred around their commitment to “meaningful commercial and social entrepreneurism, integrated with environmental concern.”
During the first Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020, Magpie developed a new project on the Quaker Peace Dove. The collective ran online making workshops in collaboration with Cape Western Monthly Meeting, during which Friends joined together via Zoom to create “#QuakerPeaceDoves” using a template created by Magpie. The doves are made of recycled milk bottles, hence the title of the series: “Turn Your Lockdown Trash Into Art.” Shane writes that the doves were conceptualised as:
“a unifiying symbol around peace and environmental/climate justice concerns [and provide] an example of how we can use art as a social tool.”
The workshops also created an online space for Friends to gather and share during the pandemic, an opportunity that was important for the artists who have long been involved in creating work that places social concern and community at its heart. For more information, and contact details visit http://www.magpieartcollective.com. Images of the work featured above can also be seen via Magpie’s social media channels.
In the second part of a series of contributions, Friend Kees Nieuwerth is sharing a paper on the European Green Deal. The paper is a contribution to the Conference of European Churches’ Thematic Report on the topic.
Kees is a member of the Board of the European Ecumenical Peace Movement Church and Peace, which is a partner organization of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) based in Brussels. CEC brings together 114 churches from different traditions and across Europe “for dialogue, advocacy, and joint action.”
The shared paper was written by Kees as part of the CEC working group on Economic and Ecological Justice and a Sustainable Future, which he also moderates. The CEC working group is in the process of developing an critical analysis of the European Green Deal from the churches’ perspective. This paper is therefore a contribution from the author to this work in progress which –it is hoped- will result in an document for dialogue with the European institutions and the member churches of CEC entitled ‘From a Green Deal to a Green Economy – Inspired by Green Theology.’
The author is a member of Netherlands Yearly Meeting. Read his previous contribution to the Resource Hub here.
In May, the Quaker Council for European Affairs launched their new report Climate, Peace & Human Rights: Are European Policies Coherent?. In the context of EU climate policies and the EU Green New Deal, this report lays out the need for an integrated approach to these three areas.
Learn more about QCEA’s work on climate justice in the full report, which can be accessed here.
Foto showing the Gross Moss habitat at 1250m altitude. One of the former drainage trenches runs through the picture. Draining the water from the moor by this and other trenches has been blocked through numerous man-made dams perpendicular to the canal (visible in the foto). The resulting water filled basins will “spawn” regrowth of moss plants and, overall, the slow restoration of the moor.
A group of Friends in Zurich, Switzerland have recently become involved in sponsoring a local renaturation project. The group is currently making regular small contributions to the Swiss NGO Myclimate, which is working to restore highland moors in the east of Switzerland. These big marshlands have a major carbon storage potential, which goes untapped unless the moor is “rewetted” following peat extraction or agricultural usage. Myclimate and other NGOs have been gathering financial backing so that this restoration project can take place.
A member of the group, Thomas Gorr, is also involved in his capacity as a biologist, mapping the progress of renaturation through regular visits of the area and by protocoling the ensuing changes in the plant cover and the inhabiting pool of animal species. Thomas writes that by “renaturing (rewetting) moors both a highly effective carbon fixation is fostered and the biodiversity of very rare specialist species (plants and animals alike) will also benefit. In contrast, dried moors (the state moors are usually in across countries of central Europe), act more as a carbon source than as carbon sequestration habitat.”