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The religions and climate change

Steve Howard of the Climate Group at Lambeth 2005:

In 2003 Europe had a heat wave. Some of us enjoyed the long, hot summer, but the gardens and fields suffered, the reservoirs ran dry, and many older and more vulnerable people died in the heat. Recent studies suggest that soon that will be nothing. By 2060 a summer like 2003 will be unusually cool.

Looking around the room very few of us will be around to sweat through it – although our children and grandchildren will be. We can only imagine how the people will suffer.

"Research has shown that taking action to reduce gas house emissions doesn’t need to cost money and could actually generate profits. Whilst economic considerations are not always paramount to religion it is useful, while saving humankind, to also be able to save money."
It is not just the heat. If things continue as they are going, monsoon patterns will be disrupted and the 150,000 people a year that the WHO estimate are already dying due to climate change will be just the tip of the rapidly melting ice-berg. Most of us here know the rest from reports and newspapers: rising sea levels, the spread of disease, drought and famine… The impacts of climate change could become something we have to live with and die with, rather than something we just read about and imagine.

Climate change is not just an environmental issue; it is a social, development and economic issue as well. And questions of theology and morality are increasingly being included in the debate as well.

As the Executive Director of the Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy James Nash, has stated so vividly, “global warming is a moral problem to the extent that it is human-induced or enhanced. Because of the potential climatic consequences which can follow, a casual attitude toward global warming ought to be viewed as sin.”

ARC is at the forefront of deliberations on the link between religion and climate change. Its Climate Change Partnership Handbook has become an invaluable resource to many faith communities. It points out that churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other houses of worship do not consume as much energy as most factories or offices.

Yet religious congregations are able to influence action - through their own personal decisions and through emphasizing the connections between their faith and the threat of climate change.

Religious groups promoting solutions to climate change, free from any other agenda, could drive international action forward by combining their efforts. As such, The Climate Group is delighted to work in partnership with organisations such as ARC, exploring ways to engage the faiths on this crucial issue.

Before I finish, I have one final point. Research has shown that taking action to reduce gas house emissions doesn’t need to cost money and could actually generate profits. Whilst economic considerations are not always paramount to religion it is useful, while saving humankind, to also be able to save money.



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