What is the proper role of people of faith in Australia in fighting climate change? For signs of hope, let’s step back and see the big picture. Of course, our reliance on a loving and all-powerful God is part of this, but I will focus here on the more temporal sphere, writes Thea Ormerod.
- The Good Oil
If it feels like we are in dark times when it comes to progress on fighting climate change, be assured that many share that feeling with you. Where do we look for some signs of hope when we care about climate action? What could be the role of people of faith in this new political landscape?
Paul Gilding, an independent writer and advocate for action on climate change and sustainability, has outlined a number of positive developments in the global environmental movement. He observes that climate change action is no longer at society’s margins, but now has the support of the world’s top science bodies, many of the world’s most powerful political leaders and some of the world’s wealthiest people.
Spokespersons of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the International Energy Agency are all advocating for strong and urgent action – including carbon pricing. This comes on top of the most global, broadly based community campaigning ever seen.
The next source of hope is the global energy market. The cost of renewable energy is falling significantly, so the cost of new coal-fired power generation is already more than new solar and wind generators. Rooftop solar has grown rapidly both here and overseas so that it is reducing the demand for coal-generated electricity, with major shutdowns of coal plants now inevitable. According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNDP), investment globally in renewable energy is now comparable to investment in power from fossil fuels. Finally, the global finance sector is also now much more aware of the risks from unburnable carbon.
Thus, some of the conditions are in place for humanity to disentangle itself from fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy. It needs to happen with or without the Coalition Government’s support. The need to respond is far more urgent than many people think. The lag effect from current emissions means more warming is locked in, and the most vulnerable and blameless of the world are suffering the most.
So what is the proper role of people of faith in Australia?
In my view there is much room for scaling up our engagement and to make it a more integrated one. To stand against the evil of climate change, Christians must embrace its spiritual dimensions, but also its wide-ranging cultural, political, economic and practical challenges. It is essentially about disentangling ourselves from our dependence on fossil fuels, and it will require some adjustment, effort and perhaps discomfort.