It’s now over 30 years since the Lambeth Conference called for “Urgent and Instant Action” on this one. That call was followed by 20 years of doing almost nothing! These were the days of Mrs Thatcher, with her famous ignorance and antipathy about alternative energy. The outlook now is entirely different, as exactly the events the scientists indicated would happen are unfolding around us.
There has been real progress in the past 10 years, and scientific arguments which seemed so notional in 1978 is obvious and almost universally accepted now. This is a whole world issue — the UK only contributes 2% to the whole, but someone's got to give a lead. Copenhagen is absolutely crucial. To get it right world leaders need to pitch something real, but also doable. After years of childish denial and idiocy from US Governments, Obama is on the case, gathering the 16 nations who account for 80% of global emissions. This has to be encouraging.
People stick heads in the sand because they fear the consequences of confronting our fantasies about infinite growth and consumption, which has been the only show in town. Theologically, Christians have a rich tradition. It’s not just our measured pattern of feasting and fasting. There are big Scriptural concepts there — Shabat, Noachite Covenant, Shalom, Jubilee, Proportionality in reaping, Usury as a sin, Stewardship, and the vision of a whole earth groaining in futility for redemption. These are core messages of our theology, even if we’ve rather lost sight of some of them in the last century. It’s obviously time to focus on them again.
So what do we do? As well as joining anyone willing to come along on a public awareness changing exercise, the Carbon Trust, with whom the Church has been working closely, has developed a 5 Stage response model:
- Case for action
- Opportunity assessment
- Implementation Plan
- Manage Implementation
We just have to get our rear ends into gear. The Enemy is Whinging Pom Cynicism, both corporate (“Anything that doesn’t solve the whole problem instantly is only a futile gesture so we’ll all have a good laugh at it”) and personal (“What I do doesn’t make a difference, so I think I’ll just carry on doing nothing”).
Pragmatically, the choices seem to be