(Solar panels cover the roof of the Paul VI hall near the cupola of Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican November 26, 2008. REUTERS/Tony Gentile )

Few religious communities have gone as far in fighting climate change as a church in Queensland, Australia, which has 24 solar panels bolted to the roof in the shape of a Christian cross.

“It’s very effective. It’s inspired some members of our congregation to install panels on their homes,” Reverend David Lowry said of the “solar cross” mounted in 2009 on the Caloundra Uniting Church, which groups three Protestant denominations.

Many religions have been wary of moving to install renewable energy sources on their places of worship, from cathedrals to mosques – or of taking a strong stand on climate change in general – despite teachings that people should be custodians of nature.

But slowly, that may be changing, thanks to new religious leaders including Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church.