Many of you know that I am joining with Christians from many churches, missions and relief agencies in an effort organized by the global evangelical Lausanne Movement in Paris next week.
We’ll be bringing prayerful gospel support and witness to the nearly 200 nations gathered there to forge a plan of action to address the climate crisis. 179 of them have already submitted plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The US – one of the biggest polluters – has pledged to cut emissions 26% from 2005 levels by 2025. Japan and Europe have also promised strong action. And the developing world, led by China and India, is also on board, with plans to cap emissions by specific dates, as they pull their people out of poverty.
These may be the biggest plans the world has ever made together to confront any problem. But they’re still not nearly enough. Without enacting these pledges, the world will likely be 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit hotter by 2100. That’s enough to make a city like New York as hot as Orlando, or Boston as hot as Charlotte.
But even with these plans, the world will be 6.3% hotter by the end of the century, turning Atlanta into Vegas, or Dallas into Phoenix. No one wants to think about what Phoenix or Miami would be like (although Miami is a special case, since it would then be part of the Atlantic Ocean). And no one wants to think about the species and human populations who inhabit all these places, suffering the impact of dramatic changes at unprecedented speed.
The global goal has been to keep global temperature increases to 3.6 degrees F. So we still have a long way to go. We will have to ratchet up commitments over time, hold our leaders accountable, invest in new energy technologies, and reexamine our lifestyles for the sake of the creation, for millions of species, and for our children. And we will have to fend off efforts here in America to gut even these modest plans, funded by energy companies whose business model presumes an unending oil and coal binge.
This isn’t a problem for technocrats alone. This calls for transformation of people; for what Pope Francis calls “an ecological conversion.” It calls for us to listen to the National Association of Evangelicals, which has called us to renounce destructive consumption habits, and to persuade our governments to address climate pollution.
So I’m going to Paris to listen, to pray, to resist and support. I’m going to communicate in a small way that God’s church cares about His creation with its beautiful but threatened web of interconnected life. I’m going to affirm that the Earth is the Lord’s, and that in Christ He is reconciling all things that are broken and tainted. I’m going to stand with the poorest countries bearing the brunt of environmental disruption.
I’ll be posting on Facebook and Twitter regularly regularly over the next couple of weeks, and on ClimateCaretakers.org. If you want to hear my updates, just respond to this post, or shoot me an email, or “like” Beloved Planet’s Facebook page, and I’ll make sure you’re in the loop. And I would be so glad if you would pray for me and my companions. If you aren’t so sure about prayer, I’d be glad for your kind thoughts, or a word of encouragement.