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
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.
Local community engagement is key in communicating the realities of climate change and how to take action against its effects. Joe Burlington, a Quaker from Dorset, has made a one-page handout for his local Transition Town group with some useful information on the realities of climate change, important positive developments, what actions to take and some angles to take in conversations with climate change deniers. Click below to download the handout: