Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the World Council of Churches, is from the Anglican Church of Kenya and is the first woman and the first African in the position in the history of the World Council of Churches. In this interview held at the Central Committee at the Synod of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg, Germany, she speaks on how climate change affects communities and what churches can do to address the situation.
Why has climate justice become such an important issue?
We have abused and misused the resources of this earth and thus we have been denying livelihood to millions of people. That is why climate justice has become such an important issue today. If we continue to misuse nature, at the rate we are going, many more millions of people risk losing their lives. And we also risk losing a lot of biodiversity from the globe. Thus, it is an important issue.
How is climate justice connected to the issue of peace?
As long as there is climate injustice, there are climate-driven conflicts, for example, the search for pastures or for water. When people don’t have water, they will fight. And when they fight, there is no peace. This becomes a challenge for communities. So, the search for peace is also the search for climate justice.
What can the ecumenical movement and churches do to facilitate both?
We have to make sure that the ways in which we use resources and produce are sustainable. We have called for new methodologies to produce our food and ways of sharing resources. We are also challenged to review our growth. Many countries talk about economic growth. But growth usually means that we violate the environment, thus creating more conflict. So what can the church do? The church has to link the search for peace and the search for climate justice. We have to work with environmental issues so that our production does not render big parts of the population poor while enriching only a few.
So this is more than development work?
It is much more. We have to look at our ethics. Do we want more every day? Do we talk about needs or about greed? If we work with the concept of needs, then we will appropriate resources accordingly, but if our term is greed, it is the very few who profit. We need a theology of life to sustain peace. If one part of life is broken, there will be violations either of the earth or of humanity.