The budget, climate and faith

By Ann Pettifor
April 23, 2009

The campaigns director of Operation Noah starts a new series of reflective pieces for Ekklesia in the run-up to the Copenhagen Summit in December '09.


“How hard is it for them that trust in riches, to enter the kingdom of God……But many that are first shall be last.” St. Mark 10.

Itis hard to grasp fully the scale of the crisis we face. Not the financial crisis; not even the climate crisis which seems so immense and so complex (for more see Operation Noah here.) No, harder to grasp is the scale of iniquity at the heart of our human relationships – and with it, the scale of our spiritual crisis.

Yesterday the British Chancellor revealed that partly because taxpayers came to the rescue of bankers (with about £1.2 trillion of support) and partly because the government made a moderate intervention to support the victims of the banking crisis, the British government is heavily indebted.

The loudest attacks on that high level of indebtedness came not from those who will pay – the working people who are taxpayers. Instead the attacks came from those most responsible for the debt – bankers, responsible for the grave financial crisis inflicted on us all. To the BBC, they declared themselves aghast at this apparently unexpected development and issued veiled threats that the sale of government gilts would be boycotted.

The media reported the outrage of the bankers uncritically. News of the 73,700 people made unemployed last month – as a result of the banking crisis - was relegated to the equivalent of a footnote.

Then the government, on behalf of taxpayers, announced that to help raise the £200 billion needed to finance the deficit, it will call on the services of – you guessed it – bankers in the City of London. In other words, the government will pay bankers large fees to arrange to fill the enormous hole in the Treasury’s finances – caused by bankers. No wonder the London stock market rose on the news.

I raged at that iniquity.

Then there was more. While the Chancellor announced that Britain would cut greenhouse gas emissions by (a wholly inadequate) 34 per cent by 2020, the Budget was remarkable for its relaxed approach to the threat of carbon emissions and global warming. The Chancellor was so relaxed about the threat that he announced a plan to extract “an extra two billion barrels of oil and gas that would otherwise remain under the North Sea.”

On a hotter planet, with shrinking coastlines, less arable land, and an abundance of poisonous wastes threatening millions of vulnerable people and innocent creatures, the British government has just promised to worsen our toxic legacy to those not responsible for the crisis of climate change, in particular future generations.

Let us pray that they, our children, and our children’s children will have the heart to forgive us this iniquity. Let us pray that they will forgive us our ecological debts, as we forgive others.


Learn more about the ARK Campaign and send Gordon Brown an origami ARK demanding that he make the climate SAFE FOR ALL at

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