This week, the leaders of the seven leading industrial nations have agreed to decarbonise the global economy by 2100, end extreme poverty and hunger – they’re linked – and commit to raising £65billion in climate financing by 2020.
This is fantastic news. We have evidence of long-term global planning; of world leaders understanding the risks of climate change; of political will to tackle the problem and Angela Merkel joining the call for divestment from fossil fuels. Cheers, Ange.
But while welcoming this good news, many questions begin to enter my mind. For starters, why 2100? Those 85 years are a long time. Is this just a way of putting off the problem for a couple of generations? Is it a bold enough vision? Whether it will really accelerate or change anything is yet to be seen. Decarbonisation seems an easy goal to reach in 85 years – there’s a lot of wiggle room.
Then there’s the question of the companies that this agreement will hit the most. Does this announcement spell the beginning of the end for fossil fuel companies and their multi-billion dollar profits once their modus operandi has been outlawed? Maybe they’re already on their deathbeds.
And there’s a question that’s much closer to home. How will the G7 agreement affect our personal lives? How do we wean ourselves off plastics? What are the viable alternatives to heating our homes with gas boilers? How this agreement will affect the world of transport – namely international travel and commuting by car – still isn’t known. We need to work out what we need to invest in and develop, in order to have decarbonised transport. How does this affect our exports and imports? When do fossil fuel subsidies need to turn into renewable investment in transport, in energy, in development?
When all of these questions stack up, we begin to realise just how addicted we are to fossil fuels.
It’s a daunting task for the leaders of the world, one can’t help but wonder if they know what they’re signing up to. Perhaps they have a prophetic view of how the world will be.
Monday’s announcement has lead to cautious optimism among campaigners, but there are still many questions and worries. Ultimately, I’m pleased to hear politicians having the right conversations about how we stop climate change and pleased to see that, when needed, we could have state-driven change to respond to a problem that the market doesn’t have much of an answer for.
About a year ago, I was at a talk at a secular engineering firm where environmentalist, Jonathan Porritt, said: “It is time that evangelicals took the lead in terms of food waste and sustainability, because their goals are the same as the global sustainability movement.”
World leaders are starting to talk a good game. Can we, as the Church, step up and push them further, leading the change around the world to a more sustainable, lower-consumption planet?
Can we rebuild ancient ruins and restore places long devastated? Could we be called, “oaks of righteousness,” in the climate conversation?