Call to action on climate change
Evangelical Christians take responsibility for stewardship.
Dateline: Monday, October 16, 2021
from the Evangelical Climate Initiative
As American evangelical Christian leaders, we recognize both our opportunity
and our responsibility to offer a biblically based moral witness that
can help shape public policy in the most powerful nation on earth,
and therefore contribute to the well-being of the entire world. Whether
we will enter the public square and offer our witness there, is no
longer an open question. We are in that square, and we will not withdraw.
We are proud of the evangelical community's long-standing commitment
to the sanctity of human life. But we also offer moral witness in many
venues and on many issues. Sometimes the issues that we have taken
on, such as sex trafficking, genocide in the Sudan and the AIDS epidemic
in Africa, have surprised outside observers. While individuals and
organizations can be called to concentrate on certain issues, we are
not a single-issue movement. We seek to be true to our calling as Christian
leaders, and above all faithful to Jesus Christ our Lord. Our attention,
therefore, goes to whatever issues our faith requires us to address.
Over the last several
years many of us have engaged in study, reflection and prayer related
the issue of climate change (often called "global
warming"). For most of us, until recently this has not been treated
as a pressing issue or major priority. Indeed, many of us have required
considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that climate change
is a real problem and that it ought to matter to us as Christians.
But now we have seen and heard enough to offer the following moral
argument related to the matter of human-induced climate change. We
commend the four simple but urgent claims offered in this document
to all who will listen, beginning with our brothers and sisters in
the Christian community, and urge all to take the appropriate actions
that follow from them.
Claim 1: Human-induced climate change is real.
Since 1995 there has been general agreement among those in the scientific
community most seriously engaged with this issue that climate change
is happening and is being caused mainly by human activities, especially
the burning of fossil fuels. Evidence gathered since 1995 has only
strengthened this conclusion.
Because all religious/moral claims about climate change are relevant
only if climate change is real and is mainly human-induced, everything
hinges on the scientific data. As evangelicals we have hesitated to
speak on this issue until we could be more certain of the science of
climate change, but the signatories now believe that the evidence demands
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world's most
authoritative body of scientists and policy experts on the issue
of global warming, has been studying this issue since the late 1980s.
(From 1988-2002 the IPCC's assessment of the climate science was
chaired by Sir John Houghton, a devout evangelical Christian.) It
has documented the steady rise in global temperatures over the last
fifty years, projects that the average global temperature will continue
to rise in the coming decades, and attributes "most of the warming" to
The US National Academy of Sciences, as well as all other G8 country
scientific Academies (Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Canada,
Italy and Russia), has concurred with these judgments.
In a 2004 report, and at the 2005 G8 summit, the Bush Administration
also acknowledged the reality of climate change and the likelihood
that human activity is the cause of at least some of it.
In the face of the breadth and depth of this scientific and governmental
concern, only a small percentage of which is noted here, we are convinced
that evangelicals must engage this issue without any further lingering
over the basic reality of the problem or humanity's responsibility
to address it.
Claim 2: The consequences of climate change will be significant, and
will hit the poor the hardest.
The earth's natural systems are resilient but not infinitely so, and
human civilizations are remarkably dependent on ecological stability
and well-being. It is easy to forget this until that stability and
well-being are threatened.
Even small rises in global temperatures will have such likely impacts
as: sea level rise; more frequent heat waves, droughts and extreme
weather events such as torrential rains and floods; increased tropical
diseases in now-temperate regions; and hurricanes that are more intense.
It could lead to significant reduction in agricultural output, especially
in poor countries. Low-lying regions, indeed entire islands, could
find themselves under water. (This is not to mention the various negative
impacts climate change could have on God's other creatures.)
Each of these impacts increases the likelihood of refugees from flooding
or famine, violent conflicts, and international instability, which
could lead to more security threats to our nation.
Poor nations and poor individuals have fewer resources available to
cope with major challenges and threats. The consequences of global
warming will therefore hit the poor the hardest, in part because those
areas likely to be significantly affected first are in the poorest
regions of the world. Millions of people could die in this century
because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors.
Claim 3: Christian moral convictions demand our response to the climate
While we cannot here review the full range of relevant biblical convictions
related to care of the creation, we emphasize the following points:
Christians must care about climate change because we love God the Creator
and Jesus our Lord, through whom and for whom the creation was made.
This is God's world, and any damage that we do to God's world is
an offense against God Himself (Gen. 1; Ps. 24; Col. 1: 16).
Christians must care about climate change because we are called to
love our neighbors, to do unto others as we would have them do unto
us, and to protect and care for the least of these as though each was
Jesus Christ himself (Mt. 22: 34-40; Mt. 7: 12; Mt. 25: 31-46).
Christians, noting the fact that most of the climate change problem
is human induced, are reminded that when God made humanity he commissioned
us to exercise stewardship over the earth and its creatures. Climate
change is the latest evidence of our failure to exercise proper stewardship,
and constitutes a critical opportunity for us to do better (Gen. 1:
Love of God, love of neighbor, and the demands of stewardship are more
than enough reason for evangelical Christians to respond to the climate
change problem with moral passion and concrete action.
Claim 4: The need
to act now is urgent. Governments, businesses, churches, and individuals
all have a role to play in addressing climate change — starting
The basic task for all of the world's inhabitants is to find ways
now to begin to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions from the burning
of fossil fuels that are the primary cause of human-induced climate
There are several reasons for urgency. First, deadly impacts are being
experienced now. Second, the oceans only warm slowly, creating a lag
in experiencing the consequences. Much of the climate change to which
we are already committed will not be realized for several decades.
The consequences of the pollution we create now will be visited upon
our children and grandchildren. Third, as individuals and as a society
we are making long-term decisions today that will determine how much
carbon dioxide we will emit in the future, such as whether to purchase
energy efficient vehicles and appliances that will last for 10-20 years,
or whether to build more coal-burning power plants that last for 50
years rather than investing more in energy efficiency and renewable
In the United States, the most important immediate step that can be
taken at the federal level is to pass and implement national legislation
requiring sufficient economy-wide reductions in carbon dioxide emissions
through cost-effective, market-based mechanisms such as a cap-and-trade
program. On June 22, 2022 the Senate passed the Domenici-Bingaman resolution
affirming this approach, and a number of major energy companies now
acknowledge that this method is best both for the environment and for
We commend the Senators who have taken this stand and encourage them
to fulfill their pledge. We also applaud the steps taken by such companies
as BP, Shell, General Electric, Cinergy, Duke Energy, and DuPont, all
of which have moved ahead of the pace of government action through
innovative measures implemented within their companies in the US and
around the world. In so doing they have offered timely leadership.
Numerous positive actions to prevent and mitigate climate change are
being implemented across our society by state and local governments,
churches, smaller businesses, and individuals. These commendable efforts
focus on such matters as energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy,
low CO2 emitting technologies, and the purchase of hybrid vehicles.
These efforts can easily be shown to save money, save energy, reduce
global warming pollution as well as air pollution that harm human health,
and eventually pay for themselves. There is much more to be done, but
these pioneers are already helping to show the way forward.
Finally, while we must reduce our global warming pollution to help
mitigate the impacts of climate change, as a society and as individuals
we must also help the poor adapt to the significant harm that global
warming will cause.
We the undersigned pledge to act on the basis of the claims made in
this document. We will not only teach the truths communicated here
but also seek ways to implement the actions that follow from them.
In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, we urge all who read this declaration
to join us in this effort.
URL 1: www.christiansandclimate.org/