On Monday 8 October, the world woke up to the news that we have just 12 years left to stop climate change destroying both the planet and ourselves. That’s according to the latest report from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an international group looking at the latest climate change science.

We already know that our planet’s average temperature is 1oC warmer than before the Industrial Revolution. If we don’t limit the rise to 1.5oC, the IPCC predicts devastating extreme weather, including droughts, floods and heat waves that will affect all of us and push hundreds of millions of people into poverty.

Even just half a degree more threatens to tip us over the edge

Risk of Climate Change by WWF

Reality check

In the face of such scary news it’s easy to despair. Looking at my timeline when the news hit, I know I certainly wanted to! All I could see was people posting their fears for the future. Most seemed to believe that nothing would change and we’d just fall off the ‘climate change’ cliff.

The other trap is denial. Because of our transport, energy generation and food production, climate change demands radical shifts in the way our society works. Changes are scary and like third year exams, it’s easier to pretend they won’t happen. (Spoiler alert – they did!)

As Christians, we are called to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Light reveals the truth but also brings hope and a way forward. We can’t shy away from the reality of climate change by hoping it will go away, but neither can we throw up our hands and give up in despair.

Making a world of difference

While the biggest responsibilities lie with the world’s governments, there are important actions individuals can take. These include eating less meat and dairy, walking and cycling where possible, switching to renewables, avoiding flying and generally consuming less stuff we don’t need. If you’re just getting started, Tearfund has some great tips. Don’t beat yourself up if you get it wrong – it’s not about being perfect. When it comes to my own carbon footprint, I definitely have lots of work to do!

Climate change won’t be solved by individual action alone. As Christ’s ambassadors our job is to work together as churches and communities, raising awareness with those around us and putting pressure on our political representatives and governments to stay accountable on the most pressing issue of our time. Jesus wasn’t afraid to challenge the political powers of his day and he didn’t hold back!

When it comes to our changing climate, we cannot afford to stand on the sidelines, stuck in despair or denial. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Jesus’ example and shine God’s light into a world that desperately needs some hope.

You can start today by sending your local MP a letter, inviting them to back a target of net zero emissions before 2050.