Adaptation is about taking action to cope with the consequences of climate change, both now and in the future. For successful adaptation, countries and communities need financial resources and the right technologies and advice. Adaptation needs to be included as a key part of national development planning.
At the local level, advocacy around adaptation might involve influencing local officials or agencies to help communities adapt – for example, by using alternative crops or protecting land from flooding. At the national level, advocacy work might involve encouraging governments to include adaptation work in their national development planning and programming.
Mitigation means reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, especially in higher-income countries. It involves helping poorer countries to access renewable energy, and making sure they have funding for this. It includes helping countries to protect their forests.
At a local level, advocacy around mitigation could involve ensuring local authorities create or enforce laws to protect forests. It could focus on small-scale renewable energy options for local communities. At a national level, advocacy could include encouraging governments to create national development plans involving mitigation.
Civil society organisations can work with people living in poverty to help their voices be heard by those in power. This can be done by empowering people to speak for themselves, speaking with those affected by climate change or speaking on behalf of communities.
Churches can make a big difference
Local churches are part of many communities around the world. Church members often have personal experience of poverty and injustice, and understand both very well. Christian organisations and churches can advocate with or for people who are being affected by climate change. Churches can gain a deep understanding of local issues, and have a long-term presence in a community. They can use their coordinating body (eg diocese or denomination) to gain the respect and authority needed to influence policies at a local, national, regional and international level.
Christian advocacy work should be supported by both prayer and a deep passion for justice for people who are impacted by climate change.
This article is adapted from a short guide by Sara Shaw, Why advocate on climate change? You can read more about Environment and Climate Change on our Resources page.