New research shows growing Christian concern around climate change and the opportunity for churches to play their part
The most comprehensive study to date of Australian Christians’ attitudes towards climate change has been released by Tearfund Australia. The report, released today, reveals more than 3 in 5 young Christians are very or extremely concerned about climate change, and two thirds of young Christians calling on the local church to lead the way in taking action to address it.
The They Shall Inherit the Earth report details the findings of a seven-part study conducted by leading research agency NCLS Research, examining the views of Millennial and adult Gen Z Christians and church leaders in Australia towards climate change and the role of the Church in taking action to address it.
The report also examines how climate change – and creation care more broadly – fit within their understanding of the gospel, the mission of the Church and the living out of their Christian faith.
Tearfund CEO Matthew Maury says that now is the time for a new conversation about climate change and what it means for the Church.
“Our hope for this report is that the insights we have discovered will play a part in healing the geographical and generational divides that have emerged around this issue so that, together, as the Church, we can be a voice of hope and justice in our communities and around the world”, he said.
The report found that 35% of senior church leaders say they rarely preach on environmental matters, many citing the politicisation of the issue as a key challenge, however 85% of leaders are willing to encourage their church community to take action to tackle climate change.
“There is a real appetite within churches to see change and we really hope this report can open a new and hope-filled conversation about climate change and what it means for the Church’s response,” said Matthew Maury.
“Millennial and adult Gen Z Christians want to see the Church represent their views on climate change, especially those who don’t attend church regularly, suggesting this could be an issue that contributes to their disengagement with the Church,” he said.
The report found that 80% of 18-40yo Christians are willing to take action to tackle climate change in the next 12 months with most respondents acknowledging the link between inaction and the effect that this could have on the world’s poor.
According to Tearfund Australia, climate change is one of the biggest threats faced in the global effort to end extreme poverty.
“People living in poverty contribute least to the problem of climate change yet are more vulnerable to its effects and the least resourced to adapt. Recent reports estimate that climate change could push an additional 132 million people into poverty by 2030 so it’s great to see such an appetite among Christians to see some real change in this space,” said Matthew Maury.
For over 50 years Tearfund has been committed to speaking up about global justice issues which perpetuate poverty and injustice.
“This is why we have been a vocal advocate on the issue of climate change for many years, amplifying the voices of our global development partners and highlighting the threat it poses to decades of progress towards ending extreme poverty. We know that younger Christians in Australia are increasingly concerned about the impact of climate change on their future, and they want to see action – including from the Church – and we are committed to helping resource that conversation”, said Mathew Maury.
A full copy of the They Shall Inherit The Earth report can be downloaded here.