In the last few years Christians have been vociferous about the environment having shown utter disinterest until recently. However many have done so in extreme ways and are cavalier with the science of the environment. This was seen in the cack-handed response to fracking and now they’ve gone a bundle on Climate Emergencies and Net Zero dates.
Too often it is a green fundamentalism which is the public face and those who don’t accept the whole package are sidelined, to keep the activists pure in their understanding and activism. No christian environmental group or church structures seem to welcome or allow those who don’t accept every jot and tittle of their ideology, be it Net Zero 2030 (at the latest) fracking pollutes the water table, we need renewables NOW (even though they are not ready). It is rather like the evangelical fundamentalist, who will only have fellowship with those who believe things like biblical inerrancy, substitutionary atonement to the exclusion of anything else, etc.
As well as that there is often an apocalyptic and millenarian mentality, which insists of an absolute emergency with doom just round the corner, allows no one to recognise any prior achievements by others on the environment, or those who realise that going for Netzero 2025 is absurd, doomed to fail and will cause incredible hardship. Like those dispensationalists of yore who only read Daniel and Revelation, they only read the most extreme prognostications from climate scientists.
Even within General Synod more
moderate rational voices are too easily sidelined, allowing the “activists” to call the shots. Dissension at all levels in the church is unsmiled at and thus the extremer views gain traction by default.
The conflict is not between caring for the environment and trashing it, but different ways of caring. That is scarcely recognised. I would take for granted that a Christian must care for creation as I present here in a rather simple, and uncontroversial, article on the Christian and Creation;
I do wonder what members of the CCA do for the climate and creation; plant trees, personal lifestyle, transport – bike, garden for wildlife. I suspect very little.
And so their contribution to Premier Christian Radio’s blog , which I print in full.
My comments are in quote form
5 recent wins [or flops] for Christian climate activists
From preventing Heathrow expansion to divesting from fossil fuels, Caroline Harmon shares five recent climate change success stories to thank God for
Christians have been a strong presence within high profile environmental protests over the last year, with dozens of members of Christian Climate Action taking part in Extinction Rebellion protests.
We need to consider what ER actually stands for. It is not simply concern for the environment and the climate. They give the impression but their aim is far more and perhaps the climate is only secondary. Their primary aim is to overthrow the present system of “capitalism” etc, hence their cry “System Change not Climate Change”.
Here we have it from one of the founders;
. Also thrown in are aspects of Decolonisation etc , hence the aim of
Consider these three
Democratise; I thought we lived in a democracy!! It has slowly developed over 600 years but this tends to throw it all away with an appeal to Democracy which seems to have more in common with Stalin
Decarbonise, Now that makes sense to me and must be the aim.
Decolonise; The usual rant about colonisation forgetting that India got Independence in 1947.
I find it remarkable that so many don’t listen to what ER actually stands for and think it is just about the climate. Several Bishops have also failed to listen – unless this is what they want………….
Their appeal for Net Zero by 2025 is simply impossible without total social breakdown, a vast increase of deaths through hypothermia etc.
Despite some of the doom and gloom we’ve heard around climate change, there is lots of good news too. Here are some recent wins.
1 The Church of England will be net zero carbon by 2030
At a General Synod meeting in February the church agreed to aim for net zero carbon by 2030 instead of 2045.
First let’s define Net Zero
#NetZero means going cold turkey on the 85% of our energy that currently comes from fossil fuels. That means trying to run not just the electric grid, which is ~20% of energy, without emissions, but all our heating, transport and industrial processes too.
Bluntly put, as less than 10% of our energy is from renewables – the balance of the 15% of non fossil energy is from nuclear, which many environmentalists oppose. The Govt has an aim of Net Zero 2050 which is going to be very difficult to implement, unless there are some wondrous inventions in the next few years. The challenge is how to keep people warm in their houses (mostly by gas – usually imported and fracked), provide travel to work and transport of goods, and provide energy for industry, many of which are energy intensive.
Bishop Holtham went for 2045 as the church did not have requirements for industry!
This was altered by amendment from 2045. It was a small majority with many synod members missing. There are several things about this.The cost would be very great and it could bankrupt some churches.It will have little overall effect to climate change in Britain or the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if it causes great friction in churches already struggling to pay their way, with ever -rising demands from “the diocese”. It is probably an own goal by virtue signalling . My comments here;
Before anyone criticises me for being a “Climate Denier” or something equally wicked, here is a paper from Nature in 2019 warning against deadlines. All are climate scientists whose climate orthodoxy is impeccable! Perhaps the church as well as activist groups should read, mark and learn it.
This is crucial because scientists and campaigners believe 2045 will be far too late.
That is a sweeping and dodgy statement. Some but by no means all scientists do not believe that 2045 is too late. By campaigners they mean themselves and those taking an extreme line, rather than that of the Bishop of Salisbury. This is NOT an accurate comment.
It would take too long to list where groups like CCA are wrong in their science as they selectively listen to the bleakest and most apocalyptic scenario and filter out the rest.
The motion came as the Church of England began its first ever Green Lent campaign with 40 days of prayer and action to encourage care for God’s creation.
It has to be said that the Green Lent campaign is not in the obstructive and law-breaking style of CCA. We are not being encouraged to climb onto tubetrains or bare our tits as we close Waterloo Bridge. To signal my own virtue, many of the things recommended in the Green Lent, I have been doing for several decades. We have been using low-energy light bulbs since 1986 (i.e pre-LED), planted scores of trees and shrubs,prefer to cycle, etc etc.
2 Twenty Christian institutions are divesting from fossil fuels
In January they joined a rapidly growing ‘Fossil’ Free’ movement, where faith institutions represent almost a third of those divesting their funds from the fossil fuel industry. The movement has been so successful that some management companies have begun offering ‘fossil free funds’ to those who no longer wish to invest for example, their pension funds, in polluting resources. The 20 organisations included two Catholic dioceses, the United Reformed Church Synod of Wales and South Western Synod, two Catholic religious orders and some local Methodist churches.
It’s all very well divesting like this , but what about ceasing to use fossil fuels in any form? Eg fuel, use in providing mains water, base for medicines (will they stop taking medicines if made from fossil fuel?) , in industry etc?
Or is this virtue signalling?
The danger is that the shares will be snapped by others who may not care about ethical issues.
I often think that people who support divestment should simply stop using fossil fuels, in any shape or form themselves. That is far more than switching to a green supplier of elec and gas.
This flippantly shows what that would mean;
3 The Court of Appeal ruled Heathrow Airport expansion was unlawful
Just last week an extra runway at Heathrow was put on hold because the government failed to take account of the climate crisis when deciding to give the go-ahead.This was the first major ruling in the world to consider the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, which commits us globally to limit the average rise in global temperature to 1.5⁰C.
This can be overturned. On this where do you stop? HS2? The much-neded by-pass of Little Snogging?
At the same time National Express has vowed to have a ‘zero emissions’ bus fleet by 2035
They have plans to ditch diesel, which would be great. An immediate improvement would be to switch to gas. Biogas, if sufficient, would be near Zero.
Much R & D is needed to go electric as at present it is not feasible as well as being very costly.
, and plans to expand Bristol airport were rejected last month over concerns it would exacerbate the climate emergency.
That can be over turned. Local councils can have decisions legally overturned by central government.
This is good news because transport accounts for a third of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions.
None would make much difference and we are very far off from ditching fossil fuels for transport. also many overlook the fact that renewables account for only 10% of energy usage.
4 The government is currently holding a Citizens’ Assembly
From January-March 2020, 110 randomly selected people, who are a representative sample of the UK population, will be meeting four times to consider the climate emergency and propose solutions.
How can randomly selected people make informed decisions? It’s like asking to advise on revising a lexicon for ancient Chinese!!
Their views will be reported to government in the spring. Citizens’ Assemblies have been used in other countries to successfully move forward issues where people no longer trust their politicians to solve the problem or where there is deadlock.
A Citizen’s Assembly is one of Extinction Rebellion’s three demands, with the others being for the government to declare a climate emergency (which they’ve also done) and to achieve net zero carbon as a country by 2025 (we’re currently aiming for 2050).
So much for ER’s 3 demands. One needs to ask if they are remotely sensible.
5 Christians are actively involved
Christians have been a strong presence in the Extinction Rebellion protests in London.
Please do NOT assume that yours is the only Christian way.
Members of Christian Climate Action were involved in creating a ‘Faith Bridge’ – a site of worship, prayer and protest within the larger protest – at the October 2019 rebellion.
Yes , CCA also caused disruption at Canning Town to the annoyance of many – and ER. That action in particular was especially unethical.
We held Eucharist services, prayed, worshipped, gave sermons, baptised people (in a paddling pool!) and washed protesters’ feet. Many of those arrested were Christians who have given accounts of interceding for the climate crisis during their time spent in police station cells.
Why is it a good Christian witness to break the law, disrupt people’s lives and get arrested?
Your reference to “interceding for the Climate Crisis” is spiritually arrogant.
Sadly many Christian green groups are rather spiritually arrogant in their position and look down on those who don’t agree with them. We would probably get burnt at the stake if it weren’t for the P2.5 particles which would be emitted 🙂
As I write this article, someone is praying in Parliament Square. Throughout Lent Christian Climate Action, alongside other faith groups, is holding a 24/7 Prayer Vigil outside the Houses of Parliament to lament our lack of action on the climate emergency
That is untrue. Since the mid 90s various all govts have steadily progressed in dealing with climate issues; e.g virtual ending of coal in electricity production, increase of renewables, fall of emissions, reduction in energy use etc. This hardly counts as “Telling the Truth.”
and pray that our political leaders find the courage they need to take the urgent action necessary.
I hope our leaders have the courage to reject CCA’s and ER’s extreme views and work for a constructive response to all our problems of climate and the environment. It seems CCA wants to thwart anything the government does.
There is much to be sad about when it comes to the climate crisis, but there is also hope.
I don’t think CCA will give anyone any hope. I cannot reconcile their law-breaking or “superiority” with the Gospel and wonder how counter-productive they are.
Instead of such a hostile attitude Christian need to look for positive ways of caring for God’s creation rather than protesting.
Finally, I am quite sure some will consider that I am a Climate Denier and don’t care about God’s Creation.
Caroline Harmon is a member of Christian Climate Action, a group taking prayerful direct action to tackle the climate crisis. CCA just published their first book, Time to Act, a resource book for Christians who want to take action on the climate crisis