New book demands radical action from churches on climate change

By staff writers
February 22, 2009

The church must act on the destruction, poverty and injustice caused by climate change by demanding cuts in carbon emissions and facing the theological challenges of global warming.

So says a new book by Paula Clifford, head of theology at UK-based international development agency Christian Aid.

Ms Clifford recently served a year-long secondment at Lambeth Palace as special adviser on climate change to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

Angels with Trumpets: The Church in a Time of Global Warming ( is published by Darton, Longman and Todd this week.

Dr Clifford draws on biblical thought and the deep resources of the worldwide Christian tradition to provide a theological critique of the church’s approach to climate change.

She believes a much more radical and robust response is needed, rooted in the conviction that the whole web of life, including the life that has evolved on this planet and the engagement with conscious and responsible human beings with it, is to be seen as a purposive gift of God - not an object or product to be squandered.

Clifford declares that in serious terms, the science of climate change "is not in dispute." Christians, she says, "cannot close their eyes to it – for indifference is as dangerous as denial. Instead, we must look at what ‘Love thy Neighbour’ really means at a time of global warming."

"Climate change is a touchstone issue of injustice – and raises profoundly uncomfortable moral questions for those of us who live in economically developed countries," she continues.

"Those people who have done the least to cause climate change suffer the most, as carbon emissions from the developed world wreak havoc with the lives of the poor in developing countries.

"If we choose to go on protecting our current privileged lifestyles at the expense of both our fellow human beings and the world around us, then that truly is sinful," says Clifford.

Dr Clifford calls on the church to speak with a prophetic voice and to mobilise the united resources of the global Christian community, alongside all people of goodwill, believers and otherwise.

The book takes issue with climate change deniers, including former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson and Christopher Monckton, former science adviser to Margaret Thatcher, as well as those Christians who say 'whatever happens to the planet must be God’s will'.

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