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Local faith leaders call for climate justice ahead of U.N. climate change conference

Faith leader climate demonstration in front of Manchester City Hall
Mara Hoplamazian for NHPR
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Faith leaders and participants gather in front of Manchester City Hall to call for climate justice

New Hampshire faith leaders joined religious activists across the globe on Monday to call for climate justice.

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Participants gathered in front of Manchester City Hall to demand divestment from carbon extraction, investments in green jobs, and more education about climate change, ahead of the 26th United Nations climate change conference that begins in Glasgow on October 31.

Reverend Heidi Carrington Heath, executive director of the New Hampshire Council of Churches, spoke at the event. She told NHPR that her faith compels her to act on climate change.

“All of us owe it to each other, to our communities, to care for the planet. And in my case as a Christian minister my faith commands me to do this work, because we have been given this creation to care for,” she said.

“This cannot wait anymore,” Tristan Husby, executive director of Unitarian Universalist Action New Hampshire, said to the crowd. He cited a recent study that says children born in 2020 could live through seven times more extreme weather events than people born in 1960.

State Representative Maria Perez also attended the event, and told the crowd that climate change is an immigration justice issue, with thousands of people displaced already because of the climate crisis.

As a Christian person, she told NHPR that her faith is part of why she is passionate about climate action.

“We keep abusing our planet,” she said. ”If we believe in something, if we have faith, and we believe in humanity, then we have to start fixing the issues of climate change,” she said.

The group delivered a letter to Chase Bank, saying the company should measure, report, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with its lending. They called on the bank to make it a precondition for financing clients in the coal, oil and gas industries to end fossil fuel expansion, among other goals.

GreenFaith, the organization that spearheaded the effort, said that communities organized over 500 events across 43 countries.