Climate change is obviously a global issue that requires local action from combined efforts. In Kenya, a 2013 survey indicated a temperature rise that could reach 2 degrees Celsius for the maximum and 1.3 degrees Celsius for the minimum. Some of the observed impacts of climate change have been extreme, such as harsh weather, drought, and flooding. In response to this crisis the Kenyan government created institutions such as the Environment and Climate Change Unit under the Office of the Prime Minister (now extinct), the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, and the National Environment Management Authority. These units are small examples of many efforts, including those from non-governmental organizations, to combat climate change.
Churches in Kenya have also come together under the “Care for the Earth” Network that has run seminars and consultations in Kenya since 2014. These various initiatives can be understood in the light of several principles of Catholic social thought. The first and most important principle here is the stewardship of creation, which includes solidarity, participation, and subsidiarity, as common responsibilities. Have we not all agreed that we must “act locally” though we “think globally”?
Pope John Paul II, in 1990, affirmed strong points about this common responsibility in his World Day of Peace message when he stated, “Many ethical values, fundamental to the development of a peaceful society, are particularly relevant to the ecological question. The fact that many challenges facing the world today are interdependent confirms the need for carefully coordinated solutions based on a morally coherent world view.”
More recently Pope Francis discussed this issue saying, “I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.” His terms also include the principle of rights and responsibility. The issues of climate change and our abuses of Mother Earth are very broad and serious. We must depend on ourselves to care for the basic condition of our lives.