It's time to break free from fossil fuels

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kiitg-cliffs-of-moher-eamon-ryan-web-1 Picture: Ryan Web

There is a growing momentum to divest from fossil fuels. With world leaders signing the Paris climate deal this last Earth Day, religious leaders speaking out and new heat records being broken the world over, climate change is no longer a distant spectre that we can ignore. And civil society has been mobilising in response. is calling for nearly two weeks of action against fossil fuels spanning from 3rd – 15th May. It is calculated that up to 80% of fossil fuels need to be kept in the ground if we are to effectively combat climate change and keep temperatures from rising above 1,5ºC.

In South Africa there are two actions planned as part of the Break Free action; one in Emalahleni, or Witbank, one of the most polluted towns in this country, and the other in Johannesburg. Nigeria is also mobilising with the Health of Mother Earth Foundation leading three actions.

Even if there is no action planned near you or your community, encourages participation by supporting activists on the frontline by being a digital witness.

Another important way in which you and your faith community can participate is by starting the process of divesting from fossil fuels and investing in renewable energy instead.

Many Christian church denominations overseas have started doing so, with the Episcopal Church, Church of England, the Methodist Church, Society of Friends, and the United Reformed Church in Scotland having announced their decision to begin their divestment journeys in the last two years, with more denominations in the process of deciding their approaches.

The Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation also announced recently that it wants the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to lead in lobbying for the divestment from fossil fuels. This momentum is encouraging and SAFCEI draws strength and inspiration from churches, mosques, synagogues and temples as they recognise and speak out about the moral imperative to act on climate change.

An important highlight for us was the Pope Francis’ encyclical which was a worldwide wake up call to recognise the environmental destruction that is going on and for humanity to undergo an ‘ecological conversion’. Another one was the International Islamic Climate Change Symposium which took place in Istanbul last year.

As Earth Keepers we feel that faith communities and civil society is moving in the right direction; that there is a new consciousness and energy that is exciting to support and contribute to.

So we invite you to continue supporting and encouraging this journey with us and all other Earth Keepers as they mobilise the world over.

“We are united by our concern to phase out fossil fuels, to reduce our consumption patterns, and the ethical imperative to act against both the causes and the impacts of climate change, especially on the world’s poorest.”

Buddhist Climate Change Statement to World Leaders

Each one of us has a part to play in reducing climate pollution, by changing our inner and outer behaviour. As Mahatma Gandhi posited, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.”

A Hindu Declaration On Climate Change

“Excessive pollution from fossil fuels threatens to destroy the gifts bestowed on us by God, whom we know as Allah – gifts such as a functioning climate, healthy air to breathe, regular seasons, and living oceans. But our attitude to these gifts has been short-sighted, and we have abused them. What will future generations say of us, who leave them a degraded planet as our legacy?”

Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change

“The current global order has often approached the natural world as a reservoir of material resources to be exploited. The grave consequences of this paradigm have become all too apparent, and more balanced relationships among the peoples of the world and the planet are clearly needed. The question today is how new patterns of action and interaction can best be established, both individually and collectively, through personal choices, social systems, and governing institutions.”

Statement of the Bahá'í International Community to the United Nations Climate Change Conference

“We are all responsible and we are all capable of creating a new path forward with new sources of energy that do not harm the people or the Earth. We are obligated to all take action now to protect what is left of the Sacredness of Water and Life. We can no longer wait for solutions from governmental and corporate leaders. We must all take action and responsibility to restore a healthy relationship with each other and Mother Earth.”

Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council Statement United Nations Convention on Climate Change