YOUNG CHRISTIANS will meet with church leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, at Lambeth Palace today (20 October) to challenge them on climate action ahead of the crucial COP26 climate talks in November.

The meeting will be an opportunity for young people from across Britain to engage directly with leaders representing a wide range of Christian denominations and networks on the climate crisis. They will challenge church groups to respond practically – from regularly preaching to their churches about climate justice, to divesting the denomination’s finances from fossil fuels.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will answer questions from the young activists and there will be an opportunity for the young people to sit down face to face with the church leaders. They have also put their questions to COP26 President Alok Sharma, who will respond via video during the event. Nick Baker, the UK COP26 Unit’s deputy director for engagement, will be there for a question-and-answer session.

The young people present have been campaigning in creative ways for more urgent action on the climate crisis – including a relay pilgrimage from the G7 in Cornwall to COP26 in Glasgow organised by Young Christian Climate Network.

One of the key issues the young Christians are campaigning for is funding from countries like the UK to support communities who are already impacted by droughts, floods and storms made worse by the climate crisis. In 2009, the year some of the young people attending were born, world leaders promised $100 billion a year to help communities adapt, but this promise has still not been met.

The event is hosted by Lambeth Palace and organised by the Young Christian Climate Network, Christian Aid and Tearfund.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “Caring for God’s creation is at the heart of our calling as Christians. In doing so we offer thanks to the God who created us. It protects those who are suffering from climate change. It witnesses to a care for justice.

“I am deeply grateful to Tearfund and Christian Aid for bringing together a group of passionate young activists ahead of COP26. I hope people will join me in praying for their work, and for a world where we love God and neighbour, worship Christ and show our commitment by treasuring our creation, as part of ensuring abundance and flourishing are made possible for all.”

Naomi-Ruth Bookless, 20, an organiser with Young Christian Climate Network, said: “As Christians, we’re called to steward God’s Earth and love our neighbours. The effects of climate change are damaging creation and threatening the lives of humans and animals across the world, now and for future generations.

“This event is an opportunity for church leaders to listen to their young people and understand why and how to respond to the climate crisis. Together, we must Rise to the Moment.”

Richard Baker, Campaigns, Youth and Schools Lead at Christian Aid, said: “Young people are leading the way on the climate crisis with their prophetic words and action. The Young Christian Climate Network’s Relay to COP26 being just one shining example among many. Their faith, hope and love can move us all to the level of change and action required – and if their leadership is matched by the commitment of church leaders and the Church at large then real change will ripple through our communities.  If it is matched by the leadership of politicians too, then the world may yet get to breathe a huge sigh of relief.”

Dot Tyler, Head of Youth and Emerging Generation Team at Tearfund, said: “Church leaders need to sit up and listen to young people – they are real leaders when it comes to responding with the vision and scale the climate emergency requires. The church has a vital role to play in caring for creation and creating a better, fairer world for our global neighbours, and we hope that today’s time of listening and conversation can be a real turning point within the UK church.”

* More about Rise to the Moment here.

* Source: Christian Aid