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Climate change action and the role of religion

There are two billion Christians worldwide and if they recognized their religious duty to protect the environment, the planet would look very different, says one religious activist.

"God put us on this planet to tend and keep it," says Christian environmentalist

Christian environmentalist Markku Kostamo says environmental stewardship is a basic Biblical principle, not a side agenda. (Getty Images)

There are two billion Christians around the world and if they all took their religious duty to protect the environment seriously, the planet would look very different, says one Christian environmentalist.

On Tuesday, Pope Francis was joined by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and dozens of other mayors from around the world at the Vatican to discuss what cities can do to combat climate change.

While some have criticized the pope for what they see as politicizing religion, others say the pope's message is grounded in Biblical principle.

For the Bible tells me so

"This is just a normal part of our working out of our faith. It's not some side agenda, but it's actually core to who we are," said Markku Kostamo, president of A Rocha Canada, a Christian environmental organization. 

Kostamo said the principles of environmental stewardship are obvious throughout Biblical scripture.

"You see this narrative of creation right through from Genesis ... to Revelation."

"God put us on this planet to tend and keep it."

Shifting attitudes

Kostamo, who is not himself a Catholic, said he believes the Pope is doing great work to shift religious attitudes on the issue of climate change.

"Just having somebody that has his stature and really the pulpit that he has is significant. The tide turns, and it turns slowly, but it is turning," Kostamo said. 

"We're all responsible for caring for the planet. Christians are no different than anyone else, even though we've been a bit late on the draw. We need to join in."

To hear the full interview with Markku Kostamo, listen to the audio labelled: Climate change and religion.