Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Climate change, the Archbishop and the Pope

I wrote here about the Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change, and the Pope’s encyclical letter Laudato Si’.

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has now written an analysis of the approaches to climate change taken by the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church: Climate change, the Archbishop and the Pope.

General Synod will be holding two debates on some of these issues on the last day of next month’s group of sessions (Monday 13 July). The two motions are copied below the fold. The day will start with private group work on the environment. These are the papers issued to members:

Group Work Bible Study Material on Environment
GS 2003 - Combatting Climate Change: The Paris Summit and the Mission of the Church [item 25]
GS 2004 - Climate Change and Investment Policy [item 26]
GS Misc 1113 - Birmingham Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
GS Misc 1114 - Oxford Diocesan Synod Motion on Fossil Fuel Disinvestment
[These last diocesan synod motions are not being debated, but the papers are provided as background information.]

The Bishop of Salisbury (Chair of the Environment Working Group) to move:
25 ‘That this Synod, believing that God’s creation is holy, that we are called to protect the earth now and for the future, and that climate change disproportionately affects the world’s poorest, and welcoming the convergence of ecumenical partners and faith communities in demanding that the nations of the world urgently seek to limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of 20C [sic - should be 2°C], as agreed by the United Nations in Cancun:
(a) urge all governments at the COP 21 meeting in Paris to agree long term pathways to a low carbon future, supported by meaningful short to medium term national emissions pledges from all major carbon emitting nations;
(b) endorse the World Bank’s call for the ending of fossil fuel subsidies and the redirection of those resources into renewable energy options;
(c) request the Environment Working Group to develop Shrinking the Footprint to enable the whole Church to address the issue of climate change, and to develop and promote new ‘ecotheological resources’, as proposed by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network in February 2015;
(d) request the Ministry Division to hear the call of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network bishops for programmes of ministerial formation and in-service training to include components on eco-justice and ecotheology; and
(e) encourage parishes and dioceses to encourage prayer and fasting for climate justice on the first day of each month.

The Bishop of Manchester to move:
26 ‘That this Synod, accepting that the threat posed by climate change to the environment and human wellbeing requires urgent action to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, and recognising that achieving this effectively without creating damaging and unintended economic consequences requires political subtlety, flexibility and a focus on achievable change:
(a) affirm the policy on climate change and fossil fuel investment developed following the Southwark DSM passed by the Synod in February 2014, recommended by the EIAG, and adopted by the National Investing Bodies (‘the NIBs’);
(b) welcome the disinvestment by the NIBs from companies focused on the extraction of oil sands and thermal coal;
(c) urge the NIBs to engage robustly with companies and policy makers on the need to act to support the transition to a low carbon economy and, where necessary, to use the threat of disinvestment from companies as a key lever for change; and
(d) request the EIAG and the NIBs to report to the Synod within three years with an assessment of the impact of the policy adopted, including the efficacy of engagement and the progress made on portfolio decarbonisation.’

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 30 June 2015 at 11:22pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod | News

Laudato Si links climate change to economic injustice and the plight of the poor.The encyclical also makes the valid point that consumption by those of us in wealthy countries, rather than consumption in poor "over populated" countries, is a problem.

Columnist (and ex-Catholic) Elizabeth Renzetti, writes in the Globe and Mail:

"It is a rare document that cites The Divine Comedy, the works of Thomas Aquinas and the Basel Convention on hazardous waste. There cannot be many modern communications that ...give us quotations from St. Basil the Great along with the phrase 'synthetic agrotoxins.'

Only one such document appeared this week and it was, of course, Laudato Si ... [Frances] has hit this one out of St. Peter’s."


Posted by: Rod Gillis on Wednesday, 1 July 2015 at 4:36am BST

The good point of the new Encyclical is that it speaks up against population control being used against the poor. “concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion” (No. 120) and “that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development” (No. 50).

This is necessary as some Green zealots want to drastically reduce population.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Wednesday, 1 July 2015 at 5:46am BST

population automatically decreases with a stable economic system, free education, pensions and a welfare net for the weakest in society.
All over the world richer and stable countries have much lower birth rates than developing countries.

And the increasing wave of economic refugees alone makes it imperative that we do more to help stabilise those countries and help them to grow.

The challenge is how to do that without increasing environmental damage and how to get rich countries to consume much much less.

Thankfully, there are now an increasing number of economists developing models for a sustainable economy that is not based on never ending growth. Those systems haven't been tried yet and they could be a bit of a gamble.
But we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Population will then sort itself out quite naturally regardless of what religious leaders might say about it.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 1 July 2015 at 9:42am BST

Canada's baptism liturgy uses the baptismal covenant from the American BCP. Recently the questions in the covenant which follow after the Apostles' Creed were revised with the addition of the final question regarding the environment. See below.

Will you persevere in resisting evil and, whenever
you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
I will, with God’s help.
Will you proclaim by word and example the good
news of God in Christ?
I will, with God’s help.
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving
your neighbour as yourself?
I will, with God’s help.
Will you strive for justice and peace among all
people, and respect the dignity of every human
I will, with God’s help.
Will you strive to safeguard the integrity of God's
creation, and respect, sustain and renew the life of
the Earth?
I will, with God’s help.
Will you strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain and renew the life of the earth?
I will, with God's Help.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Wednesday, 1 July 2015 at 2:38pm BST

What RIW seems to not fully understand is the indisputable fact that, for the world's poor, procreative acts are a natural source of comfort - even though the results of uncontrolled sexual congress, without contraception, is the root cause of over population, causing, in poor countries, even more privation and misery.

It is not simply a matter of the rich trying to control the lives of the poor, but rather, the more advanced nations assisting the poor to become economically viable - by the provision of more freely-available contraception advice and facilitation.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 1 July 2015 at 3:28pm BST

"This is necessary as some Green zealots want to drastically reduce population."

It is not helpful to exaggerate the Green/conservationist point of view by underlining the radical opinions of the few. "Zealots" and "drastically"? Perhaps a statement of just why population reduction or limitation is not needed would ad to the discussion without recourse to buzz words. We have a serious problem; serious discussion is needed, not emotional blackmail.

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Wednesday, 1 July 2015 at 5:26pm BST

All over the world richer and stable countries have much lower birth rates than developing countries

That is the popular myth, but developed nations are ageing populations with no replacement birthrates. Only immigration has bailed us out....but a country like Japan ( with no significant immigration) is in dire trouble.

Then look at a country like New Zealand...the size of the British Isles with a paltry population. New Zealand should open its door to more Asian immigration.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Wednesday, 1 July 2015 at 6:14pm BST

RIW, that's not a popular myth, that is based on statistics analysed in The Economist.

And, yes, developed countries do not reproduce to replacement level. But if all countries were developed and if immigration would no longer be an easy option to solve our problems, the economy would soon make it more possible and attractive to have children again.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 2 July 2015 at 9:36am BST

Interesting AP wire story about Naomi Kline's visit to the Vatican, and her comments about the Pope's stand on climate change.


Posted by: Rod Gillis on Thursday, 2 July 2015 at 5:30pm BST
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