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Faith in the Face of Climate Change

21/08/2015 13:09 BST | Updated 20/08/2016 10:59 BST

Among the more recognised names that will be occupying the stages at this year's Greenbelt festival over the August Bank Holiday, will be a little known Filipino priest called Father Herbert Fadriguella.

The likes of choral multi-instrumentalists The Polyphonic Spree and the protest ballads of Grace Petrie will draw the crowds at Boughton House, near Kettering, along with the Guardian's 'Loose Canon' Giles Fraser and the Gogglebox vicar Kate Bottley. But amid the eclectic music, thought provoking talks and enticing food stalls, Father Fadriguella will be sharing his story of life on the front line of one of the biggest social justice issues of our time; climate change.

In 2013 Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines, killing 6000 people, displacing a further six million and causing $2.8 billion worth of a damage. The role of the church in dealing with the aftermath of such disasters, as well as calling on governments to act to prevent them, is growing. Following the call to action from Pope Francis in his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, it has pushed the issue up the agenda around the world.

Father Fadriguella said: "In the Philippines our church developed the FAITH project, which stood for Food Always In The Home. Most farmers in my parish are tenant farmers with their landlord dictating what crops they can grow. But back in their own home gardens they are free to be part of the FAITH organic farming system.

"This approach not only helps mitigate the risks of climate change by cutting out synthetic fertilisers and promotes carbon storage by increasing the organic content of the soil. It also encourages biodiversity and with a diversified crop local people are more resilient to cope with future food shortages.

"We do not just do things for the poor, we do things with the poor. This was not just about providing food but about empowering the marginalised and giving them dignity and respect."

The theme of climate change and the church will also be reflected at Greenbelt in the form of a unique show by comedic theatre company Riding Lights. Commissioned by the Church of England's Lichfield Diocese, Operation Noah and Christian Aid, Baked Alaska, which after the festival will tour the UK, communicates the story of climate change in a way which is challenging but fun, urgent but hopeful.

In a sign that climate change is becoming a big deal among a number of faith groups, last week saw the first Muslim conference on climate change taking place in Istanbul. The representatives from multiple strands of Islam closed the event with a call for the phasing out of global fossil fuel use by 2050 and urged the world's Muslims to work for a total transition to renewable energy.

As Christian Aid's Senior Climate Change Advisor, Mohamed Adow, said of the involvement of faith groups: "It is this prophetic, long term vision that will be needed to tackle a problem as far reaching as climate change."

Greenbelt takes place between August 28 to 31 at Boughton House near Kettering in Northamptonshire.

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