Addressing what is widely acknowledged to be the greatest single threat to global development, this is all about renewable energy, clean technologies and decisive action.
97% of scientists agree that climate change is being caused by greenhouse gas emissions generated by us, humans. Jeremiah 2:7 says, ‘I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land.’ Some would argue climate change is the biggest issue of our time, but what’s the church got to say about it?
Protecting our planet and combating climate change by the United Nations
+ THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION
I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable. Jeremiah 2:7
The Bible is full of expressions of praise and celebration at the beauty, glory and goodness of creation. From the way all is declared ‘good’ at the very beginning, there is a sense that the world around us has been provided, not only to grant us a habitat but as a generous gift, extravagant in its wonder. However, the bluntness of verses like the one above, remind us that with that gift comes responsibility, and there is a genuine risk that what is good can, and will, turn terribly and dangerously bad, if we neglect it.
Many see climate change as the most significant and defining issue of our age. Yet it remains hard to agree on, and commit to, decisive action. Its inevitable long term nature means there is always the tendency to put it off until another day. Then, when it is pointed out that people are suffering now, we come up against the familiar justice issue that those people are invariably not us! Of course, any Christian approach would immediately reject such an excuse, on the basis that we are our brother’s keeper, and neighbours to all, but its power still lingers. Furthermore, there are many good reasons why Christians should be concerned for the environment, God’s good creation. Climate change however is a specific challenge. The vast majority of scientists agree that not only is it profoundly dangerous, but it is a fundamentally man made phenomena. We bear a particular responsibility therefore to turn from doing that which is proving to be so damaging (one might even say ‘repent’) and behave differently. Those who doubt the science are frequently those looking for a reason to live unchanged lives, never a comfortable position for a Christian.
Goal 13 deals with this huge issue, principally by seeking ways to encourage ongoing international cooperation and commitment to make the changes necessary, changes like the reduction of ‘greenhouse gas’ emissions etc. This crucial issue, more than any other, transcends national borders and there is genuine goodwill existing, around the world, to do what is known to be right. Governments however know that it is not always easy to carry out their promises in the light of their own population’s ambivalence and reluctance to bear any cost. Christian communities therefore have a singular opportunity, not only to promote change themselves, but to support those with responsibility to take the hard decisions required. The prophet would be standing and cheering!
+ DISCUSSION POINTS
- Which Bible passages speak most powerfully about God’s love for creation and our responsibility to combat climate change?
- Why have Christians often not treated this as an important issue?
- What do you see, or imagine are some of the consequences of global warming? Do these ‘fit’ with the language used in the reflection?
- Do you think very much about your personal carbon footprint? What could you do to reduce it? Have you ever considered carbon offsetting?
+ GOAL 13 IN ACTION
Goal 13 reminds us that climate change is having a hugely detrimental effect on communities throughout the world. It impedes many other goals that aim to improve the lives of disadvantaged people everywhere.
Operation Noah is a UK-based ecumenical Christian charity that works to equip Christians to take a stand on climate change. By resourcing and encouraging Christians to see tackling climate change as an important aspect of their faith, Operation Noah mobilises people to take individual action, lobby those in power at national and international levels for change and equip their church communities to speak out about creation care. Operation Noah also encourages both local churches and national denominations to divest from fossil fuels as a practical step towards the reduction of carbon emissions. Reinvesting in and sourcing church energy supplies from alternatives such as wind, solar and community energy generation schemes is a strategic step in the right direction.
+ WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
Personal – Support the work of Operation Noah. Make a personal lifestyle list of changes.
Local – Switch to ‘clean energy’ tariffs for your home or church. Check out ‘Big Church Switch’.
International – Join the ‘Bright Now’ campaign.