"The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing, and baffling expedience of delays is coming to a close. In its place, we are coming to a period of consequences." Winston Churchill
I saw the film An Inconvenient Truth yesterday and it had a powerful impact on me. So powerful in fact that I cried, I felt convicted that as a Christian this was something I should care about and was moved not just emotionally but to making action as well. The science in the film is compelling but it was the moral call I felt as I watched that even if the science was faulty it was something I should be acting on if I am to be true to my faith.
Climate change is happening and it is the poorest who will suffer the most and the earliest but even us in the richer parts of the world will feel the impact. But don't take my word for it; the DVD is out on 21st November (Region 1) and 26 December (Region 2) please watch it for yourself. As the closing credits of the film suggest:
"If you are the praying kind...pray for strength to change. To quote the African proverb: 'when you pray, move your feet."
It is not the end of the world, the science and technology to make a difference already exists but new science and technology coupled with our bad habits will make things worse not better. As individuals, communities and nations we need to develop better habits. As a Christian I believe I have a divine command to care for and serve creation and more I have a moral and ethical duty to follow Jesus command to love our neighbours in thought, word and by taking action now.
I need to take the log out of my own eye so to speak so am planning to switch over to efficient light bulbs, to speak to the power company about switching to green fuel and to writing to my MP to see what his views on this matter are and to encourage him to act.
This week also saw the publication of the Stern report on the Economic Impact of Climate Change by the Government's Chief Economic Adviser. The report has been endorsed by the Prime Minister, Tony Blair and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown. It has been carried out by Sir Nicholas Stern, the Head of the Government Economic Service and former World Bank Chief Economist.
Sir Nicholas said of the review:
â€œThe conclusion of the Review is essentially optimistic. There is still time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, if we act now and act internationally. Governments, businesses and individuals all need to work together to respond to the challenge. Strong, deliberate policy choices by governments are essential to motivate change.
But the task is urgent. Delaying action, even by a decade or two, will take us into dangerous territory. We must not let this window of opportunity close.â€
The main points of the report are:
â€¢ Carbon emissions have already pushed up global temperatures by half a degree Celsius
â€¢ If no action is taken on emissions, there is more than a 75% chance of global temperatures rising between two and three degrees Celsius over the next 50 years
â€¢ There is a 50% chance that average global temperatures could rise by five degrees Celsius
â€¢ If emissions continue to grow, the Earth could warm by several more degrees, with severe consequences that would impact poorer countries the most.
â€¢ Melting glaciers will increase flood risk
â€¢ Crop yields will decline, particularly in Africa
â€¢ Rising sea levels could leave 200 million people permanently displaced
â€¢ The poorest developing countries will be hit earliest and hardest by climate change.
â€¢ Up to 40% of species could face extinction
â€¢ There will be more examples of extreme weather patterns
â€¢ Extreme weather could reduce global gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 1%
â€¢ A two to three degrees Celsius rise in temperatures could reduce global economic output by 3%
â€¢ If temperatures rise by five degrees Celsius, up to 10% of global output could be lost. The poorest countries would lose more than 10% of their output
â€¢ In the worst case scenario global consumption per head would fall 20%
â€¢ To stabilise at manageable levels, emissions would need to stabilise in the next 20 years and fall between 1% and 3% after that. This would cost 1% of GDP
OPTIONS FOR CHANGE
â€¢ Reduce consumer demand for heavily polluting goods and services
â€¢ Make global energy supply more efficient
â€¢ Act on non-energy emissions - preventing further deforestation would go a long way towards alleviating this source of carbon emissions
â€¢ Promote cleaner energy and transport technology, with non-fossil fuels accounting for 60% of energy output by 2050
UK GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
â€¢ Create a global market for carbon pricing
â€¢ Extend the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EETS) globally, bringing in countries such as the US, India and China
â€¢ Set new target for EETS to reduce carbon emissions by 30% by 2020 and 60% by 2050
â€¢ Pass a bill to enshrine carbon reduction targets and create a new independent body to monitor progress
â€¢ Create a new commission to spearhead British company investment in green technology, with the aim of creating 100,000 new jobs
â€¢ Former US vice-president Al Gore will advise the government on the issue
â€¢ Work with the World Bank and other financial institutions to create a $20bn fund to help poor countries adjust to climate change challenges
â€¢ Work with Brazil, Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica to promote sustainable forestry and prevent deforestation