As part of the Ecumenical Youth Gathering (EYG) at the World Council of Churches 11th Assembly, taking place in Germany, a group of young people from around the world have organised a strike for climate justice.
“It’s very important for me to raise awareness about climate change”, said Subin Tamang, a 25 year-old from Nepal. “I see the effects in my country.”
In Nepal, the terrain is mountainous and many people work in agriculture for income. Tamang described how drought has dried up the spring water, making the land barren, so workers cannot harvest wheat and rice, a staple in the Nepalese diet and major export. “There is a huge economic impact,” he said.
The EYG Climate Group is made up of about 25 stewards under the age of 30. Since arriving in Karlsruhe, they have met daily during their lunch breaks to share stories of how the climate is changing in their regions of the world and to plan the strike.
“What stands out for me is hearing from people from Fiji, Philippines and the Pacific region”, said Tia Phillip, speaking of the conversations the EYG Climate Group has held. “High sea levels have been affecting them already and it foreshadows what will happen to us.” Phillip, a 28 year-old mental health counsellor, is from Antigua and Barbuda, twin Caribbean islands that have been experiencing more frequent and destructive hurricanes, drought and other environmental shifts.
Although she is proud of the way her church and government have embraced methods to mitigate the effects of climate change like banning plastic bags and setting laws to prevent overfishing, she still feels worried that it is not enough. “I am fearful that the Caribbean islands may disappear”, she said, adding, “In 50 years, that’s in the scope of my lifetime, and the lifetime of my nieces and nephews.”
Back home in Nepal, Tamang is an organiser of a Baptist youth climate justice group. In his church, they host climate change workshops for the young people. The first series was in 2019 before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and more are planned for the future now that his church has established ways to meet in-person safely.
He feels passionate about engaging faith in climate work and that churches have a role in taking action towards helping communities without resources adapt to climate changes around the world. “This is about everybody”, he said.