Thinking Anglicans

General Synod – Monday's business – climate change

Order paper 5 lists the day’s business.

Official summary of the day’s business
morning
afternoon

Sound recordings
morning
afternoon

In the morning Synod debated climate change and passed this motion:

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 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) encourage the redirection of resources into other lower carbon energy options;

(d) 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;

(e) request the Ministry Division to hear the call of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network bishops for programmes of ministerial formation and in-servicetraining to include components on eco-justice and ecotheology; and

(f) encourage parishes and dioceses to draw attention to the initiative supported by members of the Faith and Climate network encouraging Christians to pray and fast for climate justice on the first day of each month.

The Bishop of Salisbury opened the debate with this speech.
The Archbishop of Canterbury made this contribution to the debate.
Bishop of Sheffield’s speech
There is also this official press release: Urgent action needed on climate change urges Synod.

In the afternoon, Synod debated climate change and investment policy and passed this motion:

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;

(d) urge the NIBs to encourage the work of those energy companies committed to carbon pricing and investing in research into cleaner fuels, natural gas and carbon capture and storage;

(e) urge the NIBs proactively to seek and scale up investment in renewable energy and other low carbon energy sectors and to track low carbon indices;

(f) request the EIAG and the NIBs to publish their ‘engagement framework’ by June 2016; and

(g) 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.

The Bishop of Manchester opened the debate with this speech.
There is also this official press release: General Synod welcomes climate change policy.

Press reports and comments

Madeleine Davies, Gavin Drake and Tim Wyatt Church Times Synod urges investors to act on climate change

Steve Doughty Daily Mail Going green is holy, say Church of England bishops: General Synod calls for vicars to have training in ‘eco-theology’

Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England governing body approves divestment policy

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK General Synod: Carbon capture, fracking and fasting

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Father Ron SmithEric MacDonaldRod GillisFather Ron SmithTurbulent Priest Recent comment authors
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Turbulent Priest
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Turbulent Priest

Of course an excellent resolution and one deserving of the overwhelming support it received. However, how much Synod time was expended and at what cost? Why aren’t “motherhood and apple pie” resolutions like this one dealt with by a process whereby any debate happens out-of-Synod (perhaps through a blog accessible to Synod members or similar)? Dignitaries can make appropriate press statements. Unless a reasonable number of Synod members (say 10% or 20%) seriously object to a proposal would it not be better use of valuable resources not to discuss it on the floor of Synod at all?

Eric MacDonald
Guest

I find it astonishing, reading the minute passed by General Synod, that the Church does not take into consideration the problem of overpopulation, which is taking increasing toll on our environment. The pope failed to address this in Laudatio Si, but that is no excuse for the Church of England to do so, since there is no general prohibition of birth control in the Anglican Communion, nor, indeed, of abortion, both of which will be necessary if we are to limit population growth. With every person added to the world population, the carbon footprint, let alone other aspects that attend… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Thanks so much for the news from General Synod on climate change. Archbishop Welby referenced the 5th of the marks of mission. The address by Bishop Holtam of Salisbury does the same. Holtam’s address covers all the bases including a reminder of the work done on climate change theology by Patriarch Bartholomew. The Paris climate summit is faced with an uphill challenge. We’ve seen from the events in the EU over the past few weeks the complete strangle hold that entrenched vested interests, the so called ” one percent”, have on public discourse and democratic process. As a Canadian, I’m… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

I’ll reply to Eric MacDonald’s comment on climate change here, even though his post and my initial comment ended up elsewhere. The differences between the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches on the use of artificial birth control are significant, and I agree with the Anglican view view on that. Notwithstanding, that is no reason to make it a wedge issue with regard to ecumenical convergence on climate change, including convergence otherwise with the Roman Catholic Church. Laudato Si provides a detailed analytical coherent theological framework. It is an important contribution. The other thing I would add is a word of… Read more »

Rod gillis
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Rod gillis

Re turbulent priest, sure, why waste valuable time discussing the future of the planet? After all, we probably need it to bemoan and wail the catastrophic demographic collapse of churches like yours and mine, because, to continue with shop worn metaphors like ” motherhood and apple pie”, we are fiddling while Rome burns.

Turbulent Priest
Guest
Turbulent Priest

Rod You misunderstand me. I did not say that Synod should not express a strong opinion on this crucial matter. But what exactly will be achieved by the time and money (and indeed greenhouse gas emissions) spent convening several hundred people to debate something they all agree about in the first place? The issue is not the seriousness of climate change and the need to address it, which I totally agree with. It is the wasteful use of resources talking about it for several hours in a large expensive forum, when exactly the same resolution could have been passed and… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Turbulent priest ” You misunderstand me.” Have I? “The issue is not the seriousness of climate change … It is the wasteful use of resources talking about it for several hours in a large expensive forum…” That the church convenes large expensive forums, and that such forums often waste resources on a show about nothing is not in contention. However, climate change is not a show about nothing. Climate change ought to be a priority for theological conversation. Conversation and debate raises awareness of the lifestyle challenges we set for ourselves when we vote for our ideals. Conversation invites… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

It’s a welcome experience for me to find myself in complete agreement on this issue with my countryman Rod Gillis. I’m delighted to see the church put time and money into discussing climate change, and hopefully into taking constructive action. Can I just point out, though, as a resident of a Canadian province that would be directly effected by divestment in oil sands, that all of this stuff will be useless unless people like you and me actually change our habits of living? The reason oil companies are investing billions of dollars in oil sands projects in my province of… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

Rod, just came across your reply. You say that “Laudato Si provides a detailed analytical coherent theological framework. It is an important contribution.” I’m surprised to hear you say this. Anything so impractical (as well as criminally silent on women’s affairs) as this encyclical cannot be an important contribution. I agree heartily with Nick Cohen in his Guardian column (20 June) where he writes, among other things, that “The pope does not say that the poor must stay poor to show their gratitude to the almighty or for the sake of the environment. Rather, he ducks the question of what… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Eric MacDonald “Anything so impractical (as well as criminally silent on women’s affairs) as this encyclical cannot be an important contribution.” This statement is a form of rhetorical misdirection. Patriarchy abounds in many places, Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, and among international economic policy makers. We have a choice here. Anglicans,Roman Catholics, Orthodox churches, and Protestant Churches, despite significant differences in some areas, can join with other voices of good will, many with more street cred than the church, in working to contend with climate change. Or, we can do what organized Christianity has, sadly, been so good at in the… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

Rod, there is no rhetorical misdirection involved, and certainly none intended. Population growth is one of the single most critical issues concerning our planet. Patriarchy may be endemic practically everywhere, but we need not defend it anywhere, least of all the kind of patriarchy which says absurdly that “demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development.” If that’s not a lie in defence of a dogma, at least it’s nonsense, bait which Klein seems to have taken, hook, line & sinker. The pope has no idea how “integral and shared development” is going to happen without a… Read more »

Turbulent Priest
Guest
Turbulent Priest

Actually—now I have seen in the Church Times that the Bishop of Chester is involved with the so called “Global Warming Foundation” I can see that I chose the wrong issue to complain about the time and money wasted at Synod discussing things which are self-evident. But Tim Chesterton put it all much better than I could—“Most of them got there by air”. [Instead of using techno solutions like video conferencing…]. Again, possibly self-evident, possibly not. The conundrum about population growth and climate change is that the key to solving population pressure is economic development—population growth is strongest in those… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Eric MacDonald “There is no rhetorical misdirection involved ….” Actually it is misdirection. You’re simply doubling down. Paragraph #50 of Laudato Si, from which you draw the Pope’s quote from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has rightly drawn a critique from both within and without the Roman Catholic Church. However the more balanced rejoinders have not arrived at your dramatic dismissal, “Anything so impractical (as well as criminally silent on women’s affairs) as this encyclical cannot be an important contribution.” Consider the quotation in conjunction with Francis’ own words in #50: “To blame population growth instead of… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

With reference to Pope Francis on climate change and economics, I came across this article on Aljazeera America. The perspective is different from that which one finds in Forbes, or that Canadian family compact/chateau clique newsletter, The Globe and Mail.

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/6/pope-francis-radical-economic-vision.html

Eric MacDonald
Guest

Consider this and the next comment as continuous with each other (should the moderator allow it). What do you expect me to say Rod? Since you have comprehensively ignored what I said in my last comment, it’s hard to know how to respond. You say that I doubled down, as though nothing that I added had any substantive content worth mentioning. So let me try another tack. Since Laudatio Si is so anti-modern, it is hard to see how it gives Catholics or anyone else the resources (theological or otherwise) for solving our environmental problems. Francis is comprehensively critical of… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

You say, rather pointedly: “Some economists have dismissed the encyclical you say? Tell me something I can’t read in Forbes.” That is not particularly becoming of you. In fact, I don’t know any economists who have dismissed Lauditio Si. I merely pointed out that economists currently have no idea how to manage no-growth economies, and that the attempt to change things in the direction that the pope desiderates is a sure recipe for economic catastrophe, which will in fact call for more exploitation of the environment. The only economist I mentioned is Piketty, but nobody seems to know how Piketty’s… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@Eric MacDonald. Have you been reading my posts before launching your missives? If so, you would know that my quarrel is not with criticism or controversy over Laudato Si ( that’s a good thing). My rejoinders have been targeting what I find to be a kind of intemperate tunnel vision with which you dismiss the whole enterprise with a vocabulary that includes, in your latest posts, “diatribe”, “dreamy”, “laughably inane” and the like. You’ve out foxed Fox news! You quote the encyclical selectively, “Production is not always rational, and is usually tied to economic variables which assign to products a… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

Rod, beware rhetorical misdirection! I don’t watch Fox News, so I’m not sure what out-foxing Fox means. My references are to page numbers, not paragraphs. As for derivatives (which are seldom traded on the major stock markets), these do not involve, except indirectly, processes of production, and the pope specifically mentions production, not futures, options or swaps (and these have real value if you make the right guess). Certainly, there are shortcomings in the financial system, but without it, companies would have no way of financing further growth. But you’re still not paying attention to the very uneasy grasp that… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Eric MacDonald “I’m not sure what out-foxing Fox means.” It’s a pun on a pun. Your stance out-Herods Herod. Pray you, avoid it. (Hamlet). “colonialism by subterfuge …sounds very 1960ish” Actually, check out Susan George’s much more recent analysis, available on line. “our financial system, it is not something that’s easy to monkey with without producing unwanted outcomes..” I laughed out loud when I read this. Where have you been since 2008? G.W. Bush, ironically, signed into law one of the biggest pieces of socio-economic legislation since The New Deal. It all depends on who is playing monkey and… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Having absorbed the fascinating comments on Climate Change, I cannot help but ask the question: Has climate change – on the scale of which we are thinking – ever happened before on planet Earth, with no population of human beings to blame for this ‘natural’ occurrence?

Come on you Christian scientists among us, give us an answer. Either that, or at least contemplate the possibility that humanity, per se, is not totally responsible for the phenomenon.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Father Ron, you might like this article by Noah Toly (Christian Scholar Review).

http://www.wheaton.edu/~/media/Files/Centers-and-Institutes/CACE/articles/tolyclimatechangepolicy.pdf

I’ve also included a link to a variety of articles available via NOAA on the anthropological question in climate change.

https://scholar.google.ca/scholar?q=climate+change+human+contribution+noaa&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart&sa=X&ved=0CCMQgQMwAGoVChMI7Z7o1OXnxgIVDhCSCh1aLAs8

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Thanks, Rod, for the links addressing my question. Although the available science does predict further climate change is directly affected by anthropological intervention, there is still an unknown and probably unpredictable element to be catered for in this very complex equation.

Scripture tells us that, one day, there will be “a new heaven and a new earth”. Does this give The Lord of Creation a special responsibility for the disposition of the present set-up? And, in the light of all the controversy about our human footprint, is there any responsibility on our part, as socially-affective humanity, to control human procreation?

Eric MacDonald
Guest

It’s a pun… Well, obviously, Rod. But I still don’t know what you mean, but given your general tone, I take it that it’s not kind. By the way, the title of the encyclical is “Laudato Si.” I have a tendency to Latinise it as well. And,…. well, I do know how encyclicals are written. I have a copy of one written by a Jesuit that was never given the pope’s imprimatur (Pius XI, that was), because the next Pope, Pius XII, wasn’t, to put it mildly, Jew-friendly. Nor am complaining about some of the “scientific” detail about overcongested cities,… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

Going on where I left off. Despite the pope’s timely and repeated warnings that there are limits, he scarcely even mentions population growth and its problems. India has doubled its population in about 55 years. Of course, there are lots of poor people there. How could there not be? (Just try to bring that 5-700 million people to equity with their more favoured citizens without economic collapse.) Yet the pope never relates population growth with environmental degradation. He calls for a new universal solidarity instead!!! We have to change humanity! (par. 9) At the same time, he uses the old… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

Fr. Ron. I am not a scientist, but I think we can safely say that major climate shifts have been characteristic, and by no means always anthropogenic. Indeed, the Ice Ages are all that you need to demonstrate this. And there is a scientist who is now predicting a mini-ice age that may have already begun. There was another mini-ice age during the 17th and 18th centuries, so it is not unheard of. Cyclical changes in Sun activity seems to be the culprit, and while the stats seem to support anthropogenic warming this time round, a mini ice age might… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Father Ron, those are two interesting questions. The first one strikes me as being the question about, or a very close relative to questions about, theodicy and cosmodicy. I don’t think there is a satisfactory answer to that, is there? However your reference to the “new heaven and new earth” provides a good practical pastoral answer in that (if I remember my Rahner correctly) it is a vision about our future. I agree with the answer implied in your second question. I agree with the Anglican position on birth control, and disagree with Roman Catholicism in that area. However, artificial… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Eric MacDonald. The things you find troubling about Laudato Si, I find appealing. In # 9, for example, referencing Patriarch Bartholomew, Frances notes,” As Christians, we are also called ‘to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbors on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet’. This is the strategic long view of Christian social teaching. One does not look to… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

Rod, let me return to something you said earlier. You quote Laudato: “To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues. It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption.” (Laudato Si #50) Your remark on this is that “Francis is re-framing the question by broadening it. Given Francis’ experience with… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

Rod, you don’t have to go as far as Rahner, since the words come from the Apocalypse. Whether they are reliable vision of our future is another question. I suggest not, not even as a pastoral response. Notwithstanding, we do have a responsibility, unacknowledged by the pope, to limit procreation — and fast. I agree that commodities markets are often not fair to producers, and that we need to provide value for product, especially if companies are going to sell so far above even market value. That’s why I patronise Just Us. But this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t provide… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@Eric MacDonald, you have my final word in our debate on Laudato Si in my post of July 20 at 7:17 pm. Father Ron asked two very interesting questions with reference to climate change in general. My bracketed reference to Rahner is a small thing. The apocalypse is mythology, and one needs some form of post-mythological frame work in referencing it. I find Karl Rahner’s theology as helpful as anything in that regard, in terms of a quick reference that is likely to be widely understood. In attempting to marshal theological resources for debate, I do so as one who… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

Well, Rod, if you think I am simply spouting hot air (which you have made painfully clear), then there is nothing more to be said, so I shall write no more on the topic. And I did, by the by, already read Toly, who drinks from the same spring as Guardini, Ellul, and Ivan Illich, whom (except for Guardini) I read decades ago, but all collude in the “idolatrous-modernist” theme, which did not captivate me in the 60’s and is less likely to do so now. No doubt I am wallowing in a sink of idolatry and “culture of death”… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@ Father Ron, you may find this article of interest re your question on socially affective humanity and procreation. The title is, Ecological Disaster and Jacques Ellul’s Theological Vision by Paul Tyson and Matthew John Paul Tan. The paper is made available on line via University of Notre Dame, Australia. ( note, you don’t have to down load the paper, just close the pop box offering download and its available for reading). From the intro: ” …this paper seeks to provide an awareness of how seemingly self-evident concepts such as ‘nature’, ‘the environment’ and ‘climate change’ are only meaningful insofar… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

First, I am not mixed up in the Dawkins crowd. I take his rationality to be roughly equal to yours, and his manner of arguing not much worse. Whether I am a Christian or not is a question that I cannot answer for the moment, though absurdities like Laudato Si are enough to drive me away, as are techniques of argument which are as patronising and dismissive as you have been. I have been trying over the last few years to read myself back into the faith, but I must say that my experience has not been a particularly welcoming… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@Eric Macdonald, “Whether I am a Christian or not is a question that I cannot answer for the moment …” Fair enough, and with a context that elucidates your previous rejoinders. ” …enough to drive me away, as are techniques of argument which are as patronizing and dismissive as you have been.'” Not buying it. A decision about rapprochement is yours to make. Just be sure you take responsibility for it. Don’t assign responsibility to me or my debating style. Taking time to read multiple posts, and then research and write rejoinders hardly counts as patronizingly dismissive. I’d say it… Read more »

Eric MacDonald
Guest

First of all, Rod, thank you for your response. It’s helpful. I’m afraid that I felt a judgementalism in your responses to me that were disproportionate to their cause. Maybe it’s just your style. Let it be so. I am glad you expressed your support for the Supreme Court ruling, and recommended that the church get itself up to date on the matter. I am afraid our primate is not likely to do the same. He has been saying the same thing about the Care in Dying report since I have spoken to him about it. I also have written… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Love you, Rod. And you, too, Eric. You are both spirited advocates of your own understanding of matters philosophical and theological. It is good to debate on line, but face to face would be so much better. I hope, Eric, that the Spirit of Christ you received in Baptism will not desert you in old age. I find the Gospel of Inclusion more comforting as I grow older. Rod, I love your catholic understanding, based of Scripture, Tradition, and good old-fashioned but ever-open ability to Reason. Agape!