Monday, March 9, 2015

Female Faith Leaders Say Climate Change is a Priority Issue

Climate change is emerging as a salient theme for women leading faith communities. Antje Jackelén, and Rev. Jane Shaw offer two stellar examples climate leadership.

Jackelén is Sweden’s first-ever women archbishop and Rev.  Shaw is the new dean of religious life at Stanford University.

These two women talk about climate change as a priority issue, what can be done about it and why it is related to issues of gender equality.  

As reported in a Stewardship of the Environment article, the bishops of the Church of Sweden issued a joint statement, saying, "Climate change is probably the biggest common challenge ever faced by humanity. But popular concern and the seriousness of the reports on climate are not matched by climate and environment being placed high on the political agenda."

Jackelén explained why the church of Sweden is concerned about climate change, by saying, " as the church, we are part of a global movement, and we have relationships with people of—Christian people and people of other faiths in other parts of the world who are already affected and ask the questions of justice. And the question of justice is at the heart of the Christian Church. So, it’s a question of climate justice, as well. That’s just one reason why we do this. The other reason is that it is not just an issue you can solve with technology and science. We need that, of course. It’s not just an issue about economy, although we need a lot of development in the economy. But it is also an issue of what do we believe, what can we hope for, what is the role of the human being in the world. So it’s utterly an existential and religious question, and we should address it as people of faith. And we should ask the question: What really is realistic to hope for?"

Jackelén explained that it is important to ask questions and to talk about the issue of climate change especially with young people. She also outlined what the church and the wider Swedish society are doing to address climate change, this includes cutting the emissions, divestment from the fossil fuel industry and encouraging alternative ways of handling energy.

She also spoke to the importance of issues related to justice and gender equality, "because we know that women are often those who contribute the least of the emissions but often the one who have to carry the heaviest burdens"

Jackelén also offered the following advice to US politicians:

"What we see is things are happening. And we know—well, most people in the United States have insurance on their homes, don’t they? And the risk that your home is burning is actually not very high, and yet you get your insurance. So if you take the same measure of risk around the climate, it’s much higher, and still there are people saying, "Oh, I don’t care." So that’s not very consistent behavior. So, if you’re the less cautious, so do get going on addressing these issues."

As explored in another article published in the Stewardship of the Environment, Rev. Jane Shaw is an Anglican priest with degrees from Oxford and Harvard, she is also the new dean of religious life at Stanford University.  Rev Shaw is bridging the patriarchal past with the faithful future such as inclusiveness, the arts, and environmental sustainability.

In response to a question about her views on the greatest issue of our times she said, “I think the great crisis of our day is climate change, and the environment. So, I’d rather hope that more people would take that seriously, and begin to think and reflect on what they are doing with their own lives.”

When asked what one can do about it, Rev Jane Shaw replied, "I think it is about bringing some pressure to bear in local communities about what’s done, I think it’s about bringing pressure to bear nationally and globally."

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