All about effective, clean, affordable and reliable sources of energy for everyone, whilst also focussing on the sustainability of energy supply across the globe.
1 in 5 people still lack access to modern electricity. The Pope’s encyclical in 2015 highlighted that the climate is for the common good, belonging to all and meant for all. Few Christians (Catholic or Protestant) could disagree with this statement, but what does it actually mean for our day-to-day lives and that of our local church?
Sustainable Energy for All by UNDP
+ THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION
...fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. Genesis 1:28
Energy is a gift from God as part of his creation, but one we hardly even notice. So wrapped up is it in human advancement and technology that the origin, of oil, coal and gas, as plants and creatures, let alone solar, wind and wave, is easily forgotten. In fact the way in which creation itself, over millennia, is allied with inspired human endeavour and invention, makes energy a unique crucible in which to demonstrate all aspects of a Christian calling to creation care.
The verse above, while not specifically referring to energy, is the bedrock of pretty much all creation theology. The God given human responsibility to ‘subdue’ and ‘rule’, have ‘dominion’ as older versions put it, over all creation is significant and profound, but what, in this context, does it mean? First of all, surely an appreciative recognition that energy, in all its forms, ultimately is a part of that creation and therefore a gift of God. Secondly, stemming from that, a sense of responsibility about how it is used, both in terms of its extraction and expenditure. Thirdly, flowing from the other two, if we are concerned for all people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, then that compassion should extend specifically to the energy poor, those that have little or no access to heat, light and power in all its forms. Because the human element of this process is so strong, it takes real human effort and ingenuity to mine it, develop electricity, for example, from it, store and distribute it etc. There is perhaps a tendency to think of energy as ‘ours’. As a consequence, if the market systems we set up around it means that some go without, whether that be a cold pensioner in the developed world, or a family reduced to cooking on charcoal in a mineral rich country of sub-Saharan Africa, then so be it.
As at 2012, over 1 billion people still had no access to electricity across the world. In terms of access to clean fuel and technologies, 42% of the world’s population still lack this provision. Goal 7 refers to this poverty, committing to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services, increasing substantially the share of renewable and sustainable energy sources and encouraging a massively increased concern for energy efficiency. It is a cause to which Christian stewards of the world in which we live should eagerly be committed.
+ DISCUSSION POINTS
- How much energy do you use on average each week?
- If Genesis 1:28 is the starting point for the biblical response to the issue of energy, would you add any other bibical texts or principles?
- Do you think of your energy use as a ‘spiritual’ issue?
- What is the Christian case for investing in or switching to cleaner energy sources?
+ GOAL 7 IN ACTION
Over the past few years faith communities have mobilised in increasing numbers in response to the threat to creation, with pilgrimages, fasting, vigils and marches. The Pope’s encyclical in 2015 highlighted that the climate is for the common good, belonging to all and meant for all.
Goal 7 clearly outlines the need for ‘universal access to affordable electricity’. Investing in clean energy like solar and wind is therefore essential, as is expanding technology to reach all developing countries. As part of this effort, Christian Aid has been working to influence those managing our finances to shift money away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy and low-carbon companies – The Big Shift. At the moment, money from government subsidies, investments of churches and pension funds and our own bank account, support the fossil industry, fueling climate change. To love our neighbours and God’s abundant planet as we are entrusted to do, requires a Big Shift.
+ WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
Personal – Money in your bank account could build a brighter, cleaner world. Tell your bank to make The Big Shift!
Local – Adopt a strategy to improve your church’s energy consumption.
International – Join The Big Shift and email the President of the World Bank asking him to stop funding dirty energy.