Source: Canadian Centre for Public Justice Illustration by Lucy Barco

Citizens for Public Justice Lenten campaign puts carbon on hit list

  • February 20, 2019

As the federal government finds itself embroiled in battles with a number of provinces over its introduction of a price on carbon, Citizens for Public Justice wants to let it know there are many in the faith community that support government efforts dealing with climate change.

The Ottawa-based ecumenical justice organization is getting that message out through its Give It Up For the Earth! campaign. The Lenten campaign encourages people to give up some of their personal and household greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s the third year Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) has run the campaign asking people to go beyond giving up chocolate, coffee and the usual run of vices for Lent by delving deeper and “provoke a little more thoughtfulness and a little bit more consideration of how they’re living and how they’re living out their faith,” said Karri Munn-Venn, senior policy analyst with CPJ.

Some of the measures CPJ seek from people are ones that many are doing already — turning off the lights, changing to energy-efficient light bulbs, taking public transit vs. driving your car and reducing meat consumption. The campaign’s end goal, Munn-Venn says, is raising awareness and letting the government know faith communities support climate action.

“There’s an empowering element to it. We see the kinds of changes we make in our homes are important and we need larger structural change and that’s why we address our campaign to the government,” said Munn-Venn.

CPJ is running a postcard campaign in conjunction with Give It Up For the Earth! which in past years has seen CPJ engage with Environment Minister Catherine McKenna. This year the postcards will be sent directly to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office. 

Munn-Venn is happy with the steps the current government has taken in battling climate change, including the imposition of a price on carbon beginning April 1, but says more needs to be done.

“We’re trying to send the message very clearly that we are encouraged by measures that have been taken and we see a need to go even further.”

Munn-Venn said the campaign offers congregations and faith communities entry into the conversation surrounding climate change, and many have taken CPJ up on it. 

In its first year, she said, the campaign had hoped to draw 15 to 30 communities from across the nation, and “that would be a great start.”

“We had 95 faith communities,” she said.

That grew to 147 groups in the second year, with Catholic religious orders and Catholic high schools combining to make the highest number of participants, said Munn-Venn.

In the wake of last fall’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said drastic action is needed within 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, it’s imperative that the word gets out now, she said.

“Every time that this or other environmental issues are brought into a parish that helps to move the conversation forward,” said Munn-Venn.

To that end, CPJ has engaged with other ecumenical organizations and denominations and encouraged them to speak out on the issue.

Ultimately, Munn-Venn said, the goal is for a “just transition” away from fossil fuels and investing “in our society in a way that is consistent with what we need to do to address climate change.”

“The more time that goes by the more pressing the issue of climate change is,” she said.

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