How Faith Calls on Us to Fight Climate Change

pollution climate change

MELBOURNE, Australia — Politics matters. Public policy matters. And the ethical judgments that inform public policy priorities also matter.

My first purpose here is to articulate an ethical approach for Christians and the Christian church to engage governments on major matters of politics and public policy, within the robust framework of a secular state. My second purpose is to apply this approach to the politics and policy of climate change as the critical 21st Conference of the Parties commences in Paris.

Now that the Paris summit on climate change is upon us, we must make judgments about the proper stewardship of the planet to ensure basic intergenerational justice for those who follow us, rather than a view that the science is unclear, the future can look after itself, and that technology, if necessary, will solve all.

Noble aspirations, in the absence of an effective machinery of government to translate aspiration into measurable action, is, to paraphrase Saint Paul, a clanging cymbal and a sounding gong.

These are all profoundly ethical judgments. They imbed judgments about what is right and wrong, about what is better or worse, about what should have priority, and what should not. Anyone who claims in making policy judgments they are doing so oblivious to ethical considerations, and instead are simply acting on a simple, “value-free” premise of “common sense,” is engaged in deep self-delusion. Consciously or not, all our views are shaped by a vast array of ethical assumptions.

That does not mean that policy logic does not enter the equation. It must. Core questions such as “will a given policy course of action produce the results that are sought, or will it produce other unintended consequences?” “what will it cost?” and “can it be funded within the parameters of necessary fiscal discipline?” must all be asked —> Read More