Is the Body of Christ Africa’s Climate Ally or should we cry Climate Hypocrisy?

Share this article

Catholic Church’s Pledge on Climate Crisis and the AMECEA Assembly

In the latest Tanzanian News of the Catholic arena, we see Pope Francis elevating Coadjutor Archbishop of Tabora, Protase Rugambwa to the high rank of Cardinal. This sparked a memory of the pledge against the climate crisis made by one of the Christian Institutions in Africa, the Eastern Africa Catholic church, only last year. It was at a time like this last year that the 20th AMECEA Plenary Assembly was held in Dar es Salaam Tanzania from the 8th to the 18th of July under the theme Environmental Impact on Integral Human Development. The Assembly addressed the impact of the climate crisis on the ecological region of Eastern Africa.

For the non-Catholics,  AMECEA is an acronym for “Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa”. It is a service organisation for conferences of bishops of the nine countries & affiliate members (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan and South Sudan, Zambia; affiliate members Djibouti and Somalia). It is a Regional Secretariat and an organ of solidarity and collaboration.

AMECEA Launches Action Guideline for Environmental Sustainability

As reported by AMECEA News, The Assembly expressed solidarity with all communities that have been affected by the consequences of the crisis in the region. It further expressed its willingness to collaborate with all the actors involved in the battle against the crisis and improve its advocacy role in the region by carrying out an awareness campaign at grassroot level. The bishops emphasized on the role of Catholic Social Teaching on environmental care and the importance of integrating eco-education and ecological activities in education programs. Prefect Paolo Ruffini noted that good communication can foster the consolidation of “ecological citizenship.” This awareness, he said, must start from the basic grades of education that can then go on to train young “ambassadors of good ecological practices.

Africa Faith & Justice Network Launches Climate Change Justice Network

The Assembly concluded with the launching of ‘Praise Be’ (Laudato Si) action guideline for AMECEA. The guidelines promote human development whilst responding to global warming with 7. The goals are to guide all catholic institutions in the region how to care for earth ‘our Common Home’ ; they address the ecological crisis and strive for sustainability. Early this year the Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in the region pledged to be better stewards of the environment and address the climate crisis by creating awareness, engaging in youth dialogues and policy making forums. They further expressed their intent to promote and implement the Laudato Si guidelines in their home countries.

Church of England Divests from Fossil Fuel Companies

The Africa Faith & Justice Network (AFJN) launched their Climate Change Justice Network last year. The goal of the network is expand on the work of African Churches against the crisis at a national, regional, and continental level.The AFJN is a body of advocates that works closely with Catholic missionary congregations and numerous Africa-focused coalitions of all persuasions to ensure good relations between Africa and the U.S. And the organisation’s activities are in alignment with Catholic Social Teaching. The All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) were keen to share their position against the ecological crisis on World Environment Day 2023 by sharing their solidarity to Africans who have been affected by the climate crisis, commending the efforts of faith groups in the continent against the crisis and government assistance.

Considering Practicality of Christian Institutions’ Actions in Africa

Last month the Church of England announced her divestment of herstakes in the remaining 11 fossil fuel companies in her portfolio by the end 2023., as reported by Balkan Green Energy News. In alignment with the Paris Agreement, the Church of England (Anglican not Catholic) intends to reach net zero by 2030 and has been emphasising on the seriousness of climate change. The Church of England has designed an action plan, Routemap to Net Zero Carbon to help achieve her ambitious goal. The route map is a resource tool and guideline for Anglican institutions big or small in England. The actions are focused on fossil fuels, high energy consuming buildings and energy used in work related travels.

I applaud the steps the Body of Christ has taken towards addressing the climate crisis. But I can’t help wondering about the practicality of some of the actions of these christian institutions in the context of Tanzania and Africa in general. Do they take into account the economic state of Africa and the necessity of fuels to expand our economic growth? What of the economic costs of climate change for the African continent and the lack of funds and investment shortfall of climate finance to tackle the crisis?

Laudato Si Movement Raises Concerns about Oil Pipeline Project

Last June the Laudato Si Movement expressed its concerns about the East African Crude Oil Pipeline Project. The movement called out the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) for endorsing the project. “As a climate activist, I am shocked that TEC made the statement on EACOP. The TEC bishops are convinced by false solutions and they need to look at the other side of the coin. The project paints a picture of good economic development while the other side is the destruction of the environment. 80% of this pipeline passes through Tanzania and will lead to so much greenhouse gas emissions, and potentially pollute over 200 rivers. This heated pipeline will harm the environment.” says Rehema Peter, founder of the Tanzanian Partnership for Green Future organisation and a Laudato Si’ animator as quoted by the Laudato Si Movement.

But as a supporter of economic growth in Africa by the available resources unless definite and applicable alternatives arise I am in support of TEC’s endorsement of the project. Because is a solution false where there are no alternatives? I agree with TEC’s opinion that foreign organisations that are opposing the project are doing so out of their own interests.I am of the opinion that as one opposes they should offer solutions and the resources needed to adapt those solutions. We cannot ignore the wide energy inequality between developed countries and developing countries. The average member of the Church of England emits more carbon in two days than an average citizen in the DRC in a year. And in one week an average western citizen has surpassed annual emissions for 23 low-income countries. As reported by AMECEA the EACOP’s Tanzanian’s General Manager Wendy Brown explained that the implementation of the project includes the protection and respect of human rights, protecting the environment and technology that will reduce carbon emissions.

African Solutions to Climate Crisis and Criticism from Developed Countries

International groups and institutions in the Body of Christ can afford to reduce carbon emissions. They can afford to pursue ambitious goals that align with the Paris Agreement but this is not the case for Africa. Africa is not there yet and it is hypocritical and discriminatory to receive criticism from developed countries that profited from fossil fuels for decades. Africa’s efforts to develop her economy under the umbrella of sharing the burden of the global crisis while Africa contributed less than 4% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. The solutions of the climate crisis in Africa should not be sourced from the western. It is African minds and ideologies that should bring about appropriate solutions. I will close with words from Seaver Wang headline The Rich World — Not Sub-Saharan Africa — Needs to Lead on Decarbonization and add 2021 article is an interesting read.

More of opinion articles, read here.


A writer and a champion of change and sustainable development. She writes on climate change, gender justice and equality, human rights, education, Tanzania and the wider region of Eastern Africa.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Leave a comment
scroll to top