Climate Justice – Contemporary developments in science, policy, action and theology

Last week we featured Martin & Margot Hodson’s chapter on climate justice in Carnival Kingdom.

In this chapter, they provide an update on the science and policy of climate change. This is one of the key issues facing humanity this century and the most negative impacts will be on the poorest in the world. They investigate climate justice through advocacy and mitigation and their theological reflection offers a clear biblical foundation for caring for creation though ethical living, practical action and advocacy.

Here are a few excepts:-

The poor are affected worst (by climate change) wherever they happen to be. We immediately think of the poor in the developing world who are taking the brunt of the effects of climate change, but we should also remember events like Hurricane Katrina in 2005, …which devastated New Orleans in the richest country in the world, the United States. The well off were able to escape the worst effects of the hurricane whilst many of the poor were left behind to cope with the devastation. Although the developed West is responsible for the vast majority of the emissions, it will be the poor who suffer most.

So where do we stand now on climate change in the global policy arena? Sir Bob Watson is a former chair of the IPCC and former chief scientist at the Department for Food and Rural Affairs, and frequently writes and speaks on climate change. Interviewed by the BBC in August 2012 he had this to say: “I have to look back on [the outcome of successive climate change summits] Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban and say that I can’t be overly optimistic. To be quite candid the idea of a 2°C target is largely out of the window.””

In August 2011 over 1000 peaceful demonstrators were arrested outside the White House in Washington D.C. at a demonstration coordinated by Bill McKibben and 350.org. The demonstration concerned the building of the Keystone XL pipeline…The potential for carbon emissions from tar sands products is huge. Those arrested at the demonstration included Bill McKibben, James Hansen and the actress Daryl Hannah. On November 6, 2011, twelve thousand people formed a human chain around the White House to protest against the pipeline. Four days later President Obama announced a delay in the decision on the pipeline permit until at least 2013, while further environmental reviews were carried out. As we write there is still a battle going on over the pipeline with attempts to build sections of it being met by fierce resistance from 350.org and its allies.

n.b. – 350.org and friends are now planning what they hope will be the largest climate change demonstration ever on Feb. 17 to keep up the pressure on the Keystone XL pipeline issue

As we look at the various ways in which we can respond to climate change, as Christians we should ask which response will reveal the new creation to those around us? In some situations it will be living in a new creation way by making the sort of lifestyle changes that are life-giving to the rest of nature on the planet. In other situations the response that will bring new creation will be one of advocacy, campaigning and direct action. The biblical description of the new creation has certain consistent features and three common strands emerge. The first is a restored harmony between God, humanity and the natural world. The second is a realisation of human welfare for the redeemed, the poor and the oppressed. The third is the establishment of a reign of justice and judgement on those who oppress.

Bio. details:-

Dr Martin J Hodson is a plant scientist and environmental biologist, and is Operation Manager for the John Ray Initiative. He was the tour scientist for the Hope for Planet Earth tours, and writes and speaks widely on environmental issues. He has over 90 research publications. His recent publications include Climate Change, Faith and Rural Communities (with Margot Hodson, 2011) and Functional Biology of Plants (with John Bryant, 2012).

Revd Margot R Hodson is Vicar of Haddenham Benefice in Buckinghamshire and was previously Chaplain of Jesus College, Oxford. She has taught Environmental Ethics at Oxford Brookes University and is on the boards of The John Ray Initiative and A Rocha UK. Margot has published several books including Cherishing the Earth, (co-authored with Martin Hodson, 2008), and Uncovering Isaiah’s Environmental Ethics (Grove Booklet E161, 2011).

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