THE world is potentially on the cusp of taking powerful united
action on climate change. The impact of this action could improve
the lives of millions. A document from the Global Commission on the
Economy and Climate, The New Climate Economy Report, which is
published this week, gives real hope that this action will spur
sustainable economic growth. It has been compiled by a group of
economic experts, including the CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman; the
former President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon; and the British
economist Nicholas Stern.
Our politicians need our permission and encouragement, as they
approach a year of complex international negotiations. They need to
hear the prophetic voice of Christians calling for gospel action,
good news for the world, and a vision of the future filled with
hope, and inspired by God's will for his people.
Three global summits addressing this issue will take place over
the next 14 months, starting with a meeting of world leaders in New
York next Tuesday. The global community will then be working
towards a crucial agreement to limit greenhouse-gas emissions,
first at a UN conference, COP 20, in Lima, in December this year,
and then in Paris at COP 21, in December 2015.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is made up
of more than 2500 scientists from around the world, and 195
countries are members. It delivered its clearest message so far a
year ago, stating that it is now 95-per-cent certain that human
activity is the key factor driving climate change (Comment, 27 September
2013). Its message is crystal-clear. We can no longer claim
ambiguity about the facts.
THE report this week by Polman, Calderon, Stern, and others
helps to prepare the ground by showing that climate action is an
affordable way forward for the global economy. It has been given to
all governments through their UN permanent representatives, and
directly to heads of government, finance, and climate ministers in
about 25 capitals.
The document, which was commissioned by seven countries
(including the UK), states: "The evidence presented in this report
suggests that the low-carbon growth path can lead to as much
prosperity as the high-carbon one, especially when account is taken
of its multiple other benefits: from greater energy security to
cleaner air and improved health."
All the evidence that we have now supports the view that action
on climate change is not only necessary, but also a viable economic
option. It is only political will that is holding back the action
that is needed. Our politicians have not heard clearly enough from
us, the electorate, that we want decisive moves on climate
THE Bible returns to the thread of justice over and over again
but, at present, the poorest in the world, who have done the least
to cause climate change, are suffering its most serious
consequences. Our children and grandchildren will suffer in a
Global and generational injustice demands an unequivocal
response from Christians to call for our politicians to set this
right. We can witness to the gospel ourselves by being a prophetic
voice to our political leaders, asking them to commit themselves to
take the bold and principled action that is needed.
The Hope for the Future campaign is designed to help Christians
to do precisely this. It was started by a group of diocesan
environmental officers from Yorkshire and the north-east, but now
covers the whole country. Its aim is to encourage as many people as
possible to write to their MPs and parliamentary candidates, and
preferably to visit them as well, asking them to ensure that their
party commits to decisive action on climate change in its manifesto
for the 2015 General Election.
The report this week has produced evidence that action on
climate change is affordable. It has also proposed a ten-point plan
for global action. We have the evidence, the resources, and the
steps towards a solution. David Cameron pledged that this
Government would be the "greenest ever", and next week he will
travel to New York as our representative with the chance to act on
THE Church has a mandate to stand up for the poor and the
powerless; to point to injustice and oppose it; to be sacrificial
in our actions and attitudes. So Hope for the Future, working in
collaboration with Christian Aid, especially in its Hunger for
Justice weekend on 18-19 October, is encouraging churches to run
"Climate Write-Ins", targeting MPs and parliamentary candidates
with personal messages asking for climate action.
Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, has said: "I've been
encouraged to have lots of letters, many from people in the
churches, letting me know that they want bold and realistic
policies to tackle climate change from all the political parties. .
"To get the strong and effective climate policies we all want,
keep on campaigning and lobbying, and keep on sending the letters,
emails, and tweets."
The Hope for the Future campaign is fundamentally about
exercising our right and duty as citizens to use the power that we
have to make our voices heard. The campaign gives all of us the
opportunity to take a positive, compassionate, and effective step.
This is some-thing we can do about climate change. I urge
you to take this simple, but vital, prophetic action to ensure that
there is indeed hope for the future for our children and grand-
Dr Steven Croft is the Bishop of Sheffield.
Further information is at hftf.org.uk.