Environment

The story of creation clearly states that, having created the earth and humans, God placed us (humans) in authority over the natural world (Genesis 1:26). This means that good stewardship of our planet is not an optional extra for humanity, but a core part of what we are here to do. However, recent decades have seen a huge rise in the negative effects of climate change and pollution. Global surface temperature is now almost a whole degree warmer than the 1951-1980 average, a change which has caused significant shifts in the worldwide ecosystem[1].

GlobalTemp.pngFor too long, environmental concerns have been secondary to economic concerns. Access to cheap but ‘dirty’ coal was the engine of our industrial revolution in the nineteenth century, and in recent years has been a major factor in the rapid economic growth of China and other developing countries.

Treatment of the natural environment is an example of a policy area where the free market, left to itself, will fail. In a world run according to the profit motive, there will never be sufficient incentives for private firms to prioritise the environment. Government needs to legislate, or provide that incentive itself. Strong government regulation is not designed to break the market system but to make it work for the planet and for us all. Christians on the Left believes that such intervention, regulation for the common good, is an integral part of the purpose of government.

We must seek to strike a balance between efficiency and sustainability. To think long term can be difficult for politicians (the next election is only ever five years away), but protection of the environment is one area where it is absolutely imperative that we have a government willing to consider the future of our planet as well as the present. The 2015 Paris Agreement was a positive step forward in addressing these concerns, and it is vital that we honour the commitments it contains.

BBC_PHE_Air_Pollution.pngNot only is climate change a huge and pressing issue, but the separate danger of air pollution is increasingly being acknowledged as a major problem facing our society. The Royal Society of Physicians estimates that there are no fewer than 40,000 premature deaths every year in the UK as a result of polluted air, and that the health issues resulting from air pollution cost the economy at least £20 billion every year[2].

It is clear that environmental action, both on climate change and on air pollution, is badly needed. The Energy Transitions Commission demands ‘stronger public policy and large-scale investment’ if the UK is to meet its Paris targets[3]. However, we do not consider the present government’s record on environmental issues to be good enough.

Analysis by the Green Alliance shows that government investment in renewable energy will fall 95% over the next three years (wind energy subsidies were completely abolished last year), commenting that ‘this cliff edge needs to be avoided if the UK is to meet its world leading carbon budgets and Paris agreement pledge’[4].

Furthermore, the abolition of the Department for Climate Change last summer sent a clear signal that action on climate change is not a priority for the current administration. At present, most environmental regulation comes from European lawmakers. There is a danger that the government, intent on a ‘hard’ Brexit, will repeal or water down these regulations. This would be very damaging for the environment, for business and our health.

Pollution.jpg

It is therefore obvious that a change of direction is needed on environmental policy. A Labour government will deliver such a change, protecting the future of the planet with strong action to ensure the Paris targets are met. Only Labour has a credible plan for significant investment in the green economy, and in public and community-owned renewable energy to deliver clean and sustainable energy for all.

The incredibly biodiversity we see in the world around us is God’s handiwork: evidence of the great creativity of our maker. It is hardly honouring to our Father in heaven if we allow such rich environments to be destroyed and poisoned to serve the narrow economic interests of our capitalist system. Left to our own devices, such activity will continue unchecked. Therefore, it is impossible to overstate the importance of a government committed to strong action to protect the environment.



[4] http://www.green-alliance.org.uk/resources/UK_infrastructure_pipeline_2016.pdf



For members of Christians on the Left, look out for our new discussion series later in the year, focusing the debate around issues such as homelessness, housing, immigration, foreign policy, war, trident and more. The "Truth to Power" Series will focus on how our faith should guide the principles underpinning government policy, and how we should speak the Truth to those with Power. Suitable for use in a small group, at home, in the pub on your tablet (or even on your own), this thought provoking series will also feature discussion guides and additional resources.

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As we enter the final days of the General Election 2017 Campaign, we want to continue to bring our nation, our government, our communities and the General Election to God in prayer: because we believe God wants us all to prosper and bring glory to his name.

Entries will be posted here daily, from Monday 29th May until after the election. Many thanks to our member Hazel for her time and dedication preparing the entries for us to think and pray on.

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