By Sara of Margaret Clitherow parish in Leeds

Sara was one of the young people  sponsored to attend this conference by our SPARK Social Justice Project.

logo for conferenceMy intentions in attending the Justice and Peace Climate Change Conference were to educate myself more on the global crisis and try to understand how churches were taking action. Fortunately, I had an eye-opening experience on how both the government and society are dealing with this crisis and how I can also help. During this conference, I met some incredible people who all had different stories to tell about how they were tackling Climate change. These ranged from raising money by walking vast distances to writing letters to local councils and the government. The Just Fair Market was also informative and motivating by including stalls trying to help solve other grave social injustices, such as nuclear weapons and torture.
The most memorable event for me was the workshop I attended, ‘Pilgrims of Cloud and Fire: pastoral care for climate distress’, led by Paul Bodenham who is a trustee of Green Christian and co-ordinator of its Borrowed Time project
I was glad that I was able to attend this specific talk as scientists confirmed a few days before the conference that the Amazon

Rainforest is now emitting more carbon dioxide than it can absorb, and startling facts like this always take away my hope for the future. During this workshop, I was in a safe place where I was able to listen to other’s thoughts on Climate change and how it has emotionally impacted them, and I was able to take time to express my views and struggles. This was a great chance for me to see the bigger picture as I believe too many of us rightly want to take immediate action and solve the crisis, but don’t take a step back to examine the impact of it on our mental health. This workshop helped me realise that it is important for us to grieve for the world now, we need to accept future losses as they are inevitable, and if we can do that, there is a change we can still help minimise future environmental damage.
Although I met I few young people like myself, I think it is important to encourage a lot more to attend future conferences like this one, whether that be through social media or for churches to inform them of these conferences and give them hope that there is a way for them to still help the world. This could also be done by including special events during the conference aimed towards younger people.
To conclude, this Climate change conference was an illuminating experience which reinforced the fact that to save to planet, the future demands sacrifice from all of us. This effort to help our future generations may require herculean strength from us, but we must not give up.