Hope for the Future was represented by Chris Ware and Jemima Parker at a debate organised by Christian’s in Parliament on 5th November, which was ably chaired by Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP. Six speakers spoke in turn giving profoundly different perspectives on how policy makers should tackle climate change. Rt Hon Lord Lawson of Blaby spoke first stating that it was “profoundly un-ethical to ask the current generation to make huge sacrifices for the next generation” on the basis that they would be richer than us.
Prof. Michael Jacobs from the London School of Economics outlined how it was not only possible to change to a low carbon economic system, but it would cost the UK only fractionally more (0.06%) that our existing fossil fuel based economy. He refuted Nigel Lawson’s claim saying “This is absolutely a moral question. It is totally unacceptable that we leave the next generation with this future.” He went on to say that adaptation to climate change cannot be the only solution “No one has yet explained how we could adapt to the extremes that the planet would experience if global warming were left unchecked”.
Andrew Lillico, of Europe Economics, gave a different perspective arguing that we should drive ahead with economic growth as if we were a richer economy we would be better placed to adapt to climate change, he argued that it was “a matter of embarrassing the inevitable”.
Bishop James Jones (former Bishop of Liverpool), brought the discussion back to the reality that “the planet is our only capital” and that “for the market to work ethically you need education”. He reflected on how through history “Our landscape both nationally and internationally reveals our values” and argued that “The scientific information must inform our values and choices”. He likened our need to persist in demanding climate justice to Jesus’ story of the widow who repeatedly petitions the judge (Luke 18:1-5). He closed with a call to action for all “We must act together on four levels: personal, parochial, political and planetary.”
Martin Harper, RSPB, spoke on behalf of nature, not only raising the impact that climate change is having on biodiversity but also pointing out the value that nature brings people that is un-accounted, for example the cost hand pollinating our crops would be huge. He also drew attention to the moral issues stating that “one of the biggest barriers to action on climate change is human indifference and greed”.
Lastly, Andrew Lester, A Rocha UK, spoke of a need for a “real sense of hopefulness in the light of all the bad climate change news. He criticised the conservation movement for not speaking with one voice on this issue. He also criticised the business as usual camp for their “zero growth is a non-starter” mantra stating that “the days of runaway growth were over”. He felt we needed a top down and bottom up approach and that we needed “the faith community to give inspiration and hope.”
In the questions that followed Jemima asked what our churches could do to support MP’s and policy makers. Bishop James Jones said “we needed to live out the Lord’s prayer – Your will be done on earth”.