Climate Risk

Climate change is very risky. That’s what we’re expecting the IPCC to say this morning when they announce their latest summary of climate science. Over 600 scientists and over 9,000 peer-reviewed papers later, we expect to hear that climate science is now 95% certain that human activity is making the world warmer. Their last report six years ago was only 90% sure.


95% is a big risk. I wouldn’t get in a car with a 95% chance of crashing. I wouldn’t light a match with a 95% chance of burning my hand. I wouldn’t even eat a sandwich with a 95% of containing sand. So I’m really hoping  people around the world listen to this report, and decide to do more about it.

Tearfund did a survey of 2,500 people to see what worries people in the UK have about climate change, and found the most common concern was unusual and extreme weather for future generations.

(We found some interesting variations round the country, which I can only speculate on – is the North East more worried about this and Londoners less worried because Londoners are mostly younger and not so bothered about future generations yet? Or are Londoners less worried because their higher propensity to be religious gives them hope? Or are they more relaxed because of the Thames Barrier, whereas the North East has more recent experience of major floods? I’d love to know. But I don’t.)

We also asked what people were most willing to do to help reduce their carbon emissions, and found 70% of us want to recycle more. That’s encouraging, because that’s a big cultural change after 60-odd years of more and more disposable stuff.

But the second most popular was using energy efficient light bulbs, which 60% of us are willing to do. 60%? Disappointing. Energy efficient light bulbs are a big saving of carbon, a decent saving of money, and one of the easiest changes we can make. Why don’t 90% of us want to do this yet? Because avoiding what the hardnosed, unexcitable folk at Price Waterhouse Coopers call ‘the mother of all risks’ means we can’t stop once we’ve switched lightbulbs. We need less consumerism, less coal, less beef, more insulation, more renewables, and more sharing.

So I’m hoping and praying that the IPCC’s message of climate risk gets through loud and clear. But I want more. I want the church in this country to become a beacon of low-carbon behaviour, a noisy hotbed of climate campaigning, and an ever-turning turbine of climate prayer. We already want the world to be fair, but we need to see that it can’t be fair if it’s not sustainable. Climate change is damaging the people God loves so much and the planet he made so carefully, so the church should be leading the way to respond faster.

We’ve got some ideas for how, here




  1. Reblogged this on Tearfund's Policy Blog.

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