Evangelical Christians at the UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt – A Commentary by Matthias
God’s precious creation groans on all levels. Every day a part of it is lost forever, as about 150 animal and plant species become extinct. And it seems that we are replacing them with man-made waste: By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean if current levels of pollution continue unchanged. At the same time, extreme weather events around the world become increasingly frequent: “Floods in Pakistan – more than 33 million people affected” or “Floods in Germany and Belgium – most expensive weather disaster ever in Europe”.
It hits the poorest
The increase in extreme natural phenomena is a direct effect of climate change. And it comes at a terrible price: loss of human life and biodiversity, destruction of landscapes, infrastructure, livelihoods, housing, and culture. Often hardest hit are the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, who at the same time have contributed least to the causes of climate change. Often, they are female.
How more global justice can be created in times of climate change was the main topic of this year’s World Climate Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh. Despite weak results overall, from a Christian point of view, the decision to set up a new financial mechanism from which poorer countries will receive aid money for climate-related losses and damages in the event of a disaster was welcome. Rich countries, the historical main polluters of climate-damaging emissions, are to pay in.
Our message is different
As the World Evangelical Alliance, we have called for exactly this, because “love your neighbor” in 2022 also means “your global neighbor.” We are now regularly represented at United Nations climate conferences, as are numerous other so-called “observers.” However, our message differs from climate and environmental activists, from business and science: from our point of view the environmental crisis is first and foremost a moral and spiritual crisis. Better laws, more accurate data and innovative technologies are good and important. But it is ultimately our broken relationship with God, the Creator, and with creation, His gift, that has led us into the malaise. At climate conferences, we talk about this in events and press conferences, but also in person with individual participants – and sometimes with environmental ministers.
(The author, Matthias K. Boehning (Bonn), is Director of the Sustainability Center of the World Evangelical Alliance).
published in German in IDEA on 29 November 2022