As our current economic system fuels inequality and climate breakdown, Quakers seek just responses to these intertwined crises.

Quakers are working with climate campaigners around the world to grasp the historical roots of these injustices, and create a fairer, sustainable world.

The wealth of the UK and other industrialised countries is built on the violent and racist exploitation of people and the earth. Today, our economy's dependence on fossil fuels and their extraction still hits poor people hardest.

This is unjust. Quakers are working within the principles of climate justice to set things right. Quakers in Britain supports that work.

About our work

    Resource

    Climate justice: a Quaker view leaflet

    A leaflet about the links between Quaker beliefs and climate justice. View online or download.

    The roots of climate breakdown

    Climate breakdown is happening because rich countries build their wealth through exploiting people and ecosystems. This global economic system must be addressed so that people can fully shift to a just and sustainable way of living..

    The current economic system has impoverished and sidelined people across the world for generations. The rights and voices of these people must be at the core of any new economy.

    Rich nations are responsible for tackling the climate crisis. Because they have done the most to cause it, they now have the resources to address it.

    Cutting greenhouse gas emissions is not enough: we must build more just economies – locally, nationally and globally. Technological fixes which continue to destroy communities and ecosystems, or maintain current economic systems, will not work.

    Acting with these facts in mind is climate justice. The term 'climate justice' has been coined by activists in the global south working to stop climate breakdown. In our blog 'What is climate justice', we explore where the term comes from and how Quakers put it into practice.

    Challenging 'net zero'

    In May 2019, the government committed the UK to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The commitment shows that political leaders are responding to pressure from the growing climate movement.

    But 2050 is twenty years too late. According to calculations of the UK's 'fair share' of emissions reductions (offsite link), we need to get as close as possible to zero by 2030, as well as financing equivalent reductions elsewhere in the world.

    'Net-zero', which relies on the assumption we can remove carbon from the atmosphere, is also not enough. Without a clear and legally binding limit on the level of remaining emissions, and a plan for how they will be removed, 'net-zero' is greenwashing for business as usual.

    A focus on people and justice is so far entirely lacking from the UK government's climate policies. We need a just transition to a zero-carbon economy.

    Central and local government must commit to policies and programmes that will transform our energy, transport, housing and waste sectors, take account of our overseas emissions, and enable people to make better consumer choices.

    Our campaign focus

    The UN climate talks: Glasgow 2021

    Our current climate justice work focuses on supporting action and advocacy around the upcoming UN climate talks. The 26th Conference of the Parties, referred to as COP26 for short, will take place in Glasgow in November 2021.

    These talks will enable climate campaigners from around the world to propose internationally-binding climate legislation.

    We are also working to push the UK government to stop funding the fossil fuel industry and increase support for communities facing the worst impacts of climate breakdown.

    To ensure maximum impact for this advocacy work, Quakers in Britain are part of a number of climate coalitions, including the COP26 Coalition and the Faith for the Climate network.

    Our policy priorities

    1. Loss and damage

    While we must do all we can to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt our societies to cope with global heating, major climate disasters are already happening, and more will follow.

    The Paris Agreement recognises that funding is needed to support countries suffering climate-related 'loss and damage' – but very little progress has been made on finding that funding.

    We are working with faith groups and NGOs to call on the UK government to support efforts to identify new sources of finance for loss and damage. In November 2019, with other faith groups, we wrote to the Times calling for debt relief for countries hit by climate disasters. Read our statement here (PDF).

    2. Financing climate justice

    Tax breaks for oil and gas, bail-outs of fossil-fuel-dependent companies such as airlines, and a failure to reflect the true cost of pollution, keep us dependent on fossil fuel extraction.

    To resource this dependency, people are displaced from their lands and ecosystems are destroyed. Communities in Africa, South America, Asia and the Pacific, as well as indigenous peoples in North America, bear the brunt.

    Quakers in Britain are calling upon the UK government to end its financial support for fossil fuel extraction, including through subsidies, aid, and export finance.

    This public money should instead be used to help fund our 'fair share' (offsite link) of global climate action based on historical emissions and current capabilities.

    Our response to the climate crisis must recognise the extractive and ecocidal underpinnings of British colonial history and our neocolonial present.

    Together with other members of the interfaith Make COP Count group (offsite link), we have produced this briefing on our two climate finance policy priorities (PDF). You can help us make an impact by taking our six steps to make COP count!

    Take action!

    These are global problems. They are daunting. But by building relationships and projects at a local level, we can be part of a strong network that connects up with other strong networks around the world. This way, we can support each other and make concerted efforts to create deep and lasting international change.

    Book a workshop

    If you are curious about the UN climate talks and wondering how to take action, come join us at one of our online workshops! The workshop will include a presentation covering the UN climate talks 'essentials': What will be decided there? What commitments has the UK made? Will they be a success, and what does that mean? We will also talk about what Quakers in Britain is doing around the UN climate talks, and how you can get involved.

    You can register here. Don't worry if you cannot attend on the date scheduled for your region or nation, you are welcome to sign up for a different one!

    Join actions around the UN climate talks

    In November 2021, the UK will host the UN climate talks, COP26, in Glasgow. Quakers in Britain are have put together this resource [PDF] to support Quakers keen to join the global mass climate mobilisations around COP26. You can sign up to our newsletter Quaker faith in action for emailed action updates.

    If you are planning an action or activity related to COP26 and would like to find out what support we can offer you, please get in touch with Oonagh Ryder on 0207 663 1046 or oonaghr@quaker.org.uk.

    You can also sign up to the COP26 Coalition mailing list to hear directly about coalition plans for justice-focused action around COP26.

    Quakers and other faith groups all over the UK are taking action for climate justice at COP26. Find out more at the COP26 actions page and join in!

    Start a conversation with your local decision makers

    We can all play a role in holding decision makers to account, whether they are MPs, MSPs, local government officials or other elected representatives. Can you start a conversation with yours?

    Prepare your points Take a look at our six principles for a green and just recovery for some key asks on climate justice as COP26 approaches. Check out the following links for wording on:

    Lobby your MP Find out who your MP is and contact them at www.theyworkforyou.com. Write to them, or request a meeting to discuss the issues in person. For lobbying tips, read our guide Contacting your MP – a political guide for meetings and individuals (PDF)

    Contact your mayor or local councillors Hundreds of councils have now declared a climate emergency and/or committed to become carbon neutral in the coming decades. Read our Local government: a guide for Quakers (PDF) and check out the Climate Emergency UK (offsite link) for more background and resources. Green New Deal UK also have this useful guide on 'Influencing Local Councils'.

    Get the media involved Meeting local decisionmakers face-to-face can be powerful and may even provide them with a useful media opportunity. Get tips on how to do this from our Reaching the media toolkit for action (PDF).

    If you would like support engaging with your local decisionmakers, please contact Campaigns & Advocacy Coordinator Rebecca Woo on 0207 663 1107 or at rebeccaw@quaker.org.uk.

    Build the alternative

    Many Quakers are engaged in exploring what an economy based on Quaker testimonies – and not dependent on fossil fuels – would look like.

    This includes putting into practice local economies that operate in balance with a healthy living planet. Find out more about our work on the new economy.

    Use Quaker climate justice resources

    Are you looking for interesting ways to learn more about climate justice? Quakers in Britain have put together a Quaker directory of 50 climate justice resources (PDF).

    Ranging from articles, books, documentaries, podcasts, plus films and games for children, there is something to suit every preference! Use these to learn as an individual, to study and enjoy them with your family, or to organise your own online reading group or film club.

    Live sustainably

    Quakers work together to make our lives low-carbon and sustainable, and support our local communities to do the same. Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre is where Quakers can find the educational resources that support a shift to sustainable living. Visit Woodbrooke's website for more information.

    Featured blog

    What is climate justice?

    26 May 2020 by Rebecca Woo

    What does justice have to do with climate campaigning? Rebecca Woo explains the connection, and how Quakers are taking action.

    Contact us

    climatejustice@quaker.org.uk