Creation Care

Journeying to COP27

October 27, 2022
Creation Care

by Aisha Huertas

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.” Matthew 25: 40 

The idea of climate change should no longer be debatable. If the science isn’t enough to prove it, the severe climate events witnessed throughout the world over the past few years should be evidence that to prevent or mitigate further devastation, we as humans must take urgent action to reduce carbon emissions, increase natural solutions, and do all that’s in our power to save our planet. We need to fight to ensure a thriving future for all Earth’s living beings.  

I’ve never been a climate change denier. For years I’ve been working on reducing my carbon footprint, recycling, exploring renewable energy and other sustainable solutions. However, climate change became drastically real to me in September of 2017 as I watched Hurricane Maria devastate my homeland of Puerto Rico. It was a helpless feeling watching from the comfort of my home in Virginia as places from my childhood flooded, winds of over 150 miles tore roofs and collapsed buildings, and calls to my loved ones on the island went unanswered because their power and phone signals were gone.  There was a sense of frustration knowing that while I had been trying to be part of the solution, I, like all of us, had also been part of the problem.   

That was a wakeup call for me. It was also the continuation and further defining of a journey I had begun in 2013 when I transitioned from a career in communications to a vocation in advocacy and justice. As a Christian, I had felt called to follow the path of Jesus more loudly and more boldly.  All these events and decisions of the past decade led me to this moment and my desire to, together with a team of eighteen Episcopalians from across the Church, be a witness of the Jesus Movement at the 27th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP27). I strongly believe that Christians must bear witness to the love and the ways of Jesus everywhere decisions are made.  

If you follow climate science and policy, you know that the most affected by climate change are those who are the least responsible: women, children, indigenous communities, and lower-income individuals – people all over the world.  COP27 gives the Church, the very institution and people who proclaim to follow the Creator of the universe, an opportunity to put our faith into action by demanding that those in power take bold stances and support policies that will save our planet. At COP27, critical conversations and negotiations will take place related to topics like adaptation, mitigation, and climate finance. The Church and other civil society organizations also want to have important conversations about loss and damage and how those most responsible for injuring the Earth and all living creatures can uplift, support, make reparations, and amplify the voices of those who have suffered most.  

We are stewards of the universe – the cosmos – and all that lives and breathes. It is imperative that followers of Christ serve as agents of change and hope in this time of climate emergency by continuing to show up, speak up, and stand up against injustice in all its forms and in the places where our voices can make the greatest difference. In November, one of those places will be Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt and I am proud that the Episcopal Church will be present. 

Aisha Huertas is from the Diocese of Virginia. Professionally, she is the Director of Diversity and Justice Initiatives for the Climate Reality Project. A native of Puerto Rico, Aisha has a passion for climate and environmental justice. Prior to her role at Climate Reality, Aisha spent more than six years as diocesan staff. There she developed a racial justice program and worked to organize Episcopalians in support of many social justice issues, including the Episcopal Church in Virginia’s involvement in the call to cancel the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Aisha holds a master’s degree in marketing communications from Emerson College.

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The Rev. Melanie Mullen

Director, Reconciliation, Justice and Creation Care

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Phoebe Chatfield

Associate for Creation Care and Justice

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