Forum 2002 Statement

Forum 2002 Statement

Climate scientists and Christian leaders call for action

July 14–17, 2002

forum logoMore than 70 leading climate scientists, policy-makers and Christian leaders from across 6 continents gathered for “Climate Forum 2002″ in Oxford, England to address the growing crisis of human-induced climate change. The Forum recognizes the reality and the urgency of the problem, which particularly affects the world’s poorest peoples and the very fabric of the biosphere. The Forum also recognizes that the Christian community has a special obligation to provide moral leadership and an example of caring service to people and to all God’s creation. To that end, the Forum offers the following statement to church, business and governmental leaders.

forum group photo

Human-induced climate change is a moral, ethical and religious issue.

  • God created the Earth, and continues to sustain it. Made in God’s image, human beings are to care for people and all creation as God cares for them. The call to “love the Lord your God and love your neighbour” (Matthew 22:37–39) takes on new implications in the face of present and projected climate change. God has demonstrated his commitment to creation in the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ who “reconciles all things” (Colossians 1:20) calls his followers to the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18,19).
  • Human induced climate change poses a great threat to the common good, especially to the poor, the vulnerable and future generations.
  • By reducing the Earth’s biological diversity, human induced climate change diminishes God’s creation.

Human induced climate change, therefore, is a matter of urgent and profound concern.

The Earth’s climate is changing, with adverse effects on people, communities and ecosystems.

  • There is now high confidence in the scientific evidence of human influence on climate as detailed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and endorsed by 18 of the world’s leading Academies of Science.
  • Human activities, especially the burning of coal, oil and natural gas (fossil fuels) are rapidly increasing the concentrations of greenhouse gases (especially carbon dioxide) in the global atmosphere. As a result the global climate is warming, with rising sea levels, changes in rainfall patterns, more floods and droughts, and more intense storms. These have serious social, economic and ecological consequences.
  • The harmful effects of climate change far outweigh the beneficial ones:
    • In many arid and semi-arid areas, the quantity and the quality of fresh water will continue to decrease.
    • Although agricultural productivity may increase in temperate northern latitudes, it will decrease throughout the tropics and sub-tropics.
    • A greater incidence of diseases, such as malaria, dengue fever and cholera, is expected.
    • Sea-level rise and increased flooding is already displacing people and will eventually affect tens of millions especially in low income countries. Some island states are likely to disappear altogether.
    • Important ecosystems, such as coral reefs and forests, will be destroyed or drastically altered, undermining the very foundation of a sustainable world.

Action is needed now, both to arrest climate change and to adapt to its effects.

  • We must take immediate steps to stabilize the climate. This means reducing global emissions of carbon dioxide (the most important greenhouse gas) to below 1990 levels well before the middle of the 21st century.
  • While industrialized nations have largely caused the problem, its most severe effects fall upon the peoples of developing countries. Industrialized countries need therefore to make much greater reductions in emissions in order to allow for economic growth in developing countries.
    • We urge industrialized nations to take the lead in reducing their emissions. They have the technical, financial and institutional ability to do so now.
    • We urge industrialised countries to assist developing countries in gaining access to cleaner and renewable forms of energy
    • We urge that actions be taken to increase energy efficiency, in transportation, buildings and industry. Many actions can produce savings or be taken at little or no net cost.. Examples were presented to the Forum of such actions by 38 major multinational companies.
    • We urge greater use and development of renewable sources of energy.
    • We urge increased financial investment and that banking initiatives be grasped to enable the necessary changes.
  • The cost of inaction will be greater than the cost of appropriate action.
  • Adapting to the impacts of climate change (e.g. droughts and flooding) is not an alternative to mitigation, but is essential given that the climate is already changing and further change is inevitable.

Christian denominations, churches and organizations need to take action to:

  • increase awareness of the facts of global climate change and its moral implications;
  • set an example through individual and collective actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • increase demand for technologies and products that produce less emissions of carbon dioxide;
  • urge immediate and responsible action by national governments, in cooperation with other governments under the Framework Convention on Climate Change. This should be, first, to ensure the successful operation of the Kyoto Protocol (which some countries, including the United States, Canada and Australia, have not yet ratified) and, second, to establish an effective programme of emissions reductions in the period immediately following that covered by that Protocol.

We, the forum participants, recognize the urgency for addressing human induced climate change, repent of our inaction and commit ourselves to work diligently and creatively to adopt solutions in our own lives and in the communities we influence. We call upon leaders in churches, business and government to join us in recognizing human induced climate change as a moral and religious issue and to take necessary action to maintain the climate system as a remarkable provision in creation for sustaining all life on Earth.

For more information: (Climate Forum 2002) (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) (John Ray Initiative) (Au Sable Institute for Environmental Studies)

Chairmen and Key Speakers

Dr John Biggs, Environmental Issues Network of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland; Steering Committee, Eco-Congregation, UK
Dr James Bruce, former Head of Atmospheric Environment Service, Canada; former Co-chair of IPCC Working Group 3
Prof. R J (Sam) Berry, Professor of Genetics, University College London, UK
Rev. Richard Cizik, Vice President for Government Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals, USA
Mr Henry Derwent, Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK Government
Prof. Calvin DeWitt, Au Sable Institute, USA
Prof. James Drummond, Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Canada
Ms Nafia D’Souza, Director, Laya, India
Dr Job Ebenezer, Visiting Professor, Messiah College, USA
Dr Jae Edmonds, Chief Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, Joint Global Research Institute, USA
Rt Hon John Gummer MP, former Secretary of State for the Environment, UK
Prof. Michael Grubb, Professor of Climate Change and Energy Policy, Imperial College, London, UK
Sir John Houghton, former Co-chairman of Scientific Assessment Working Group, IPCC; Chairman of The John Ray Initiative, UK
Rt Rev. James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, UK
Rev. Dr Ernest Lucas, Vice-Principal and Tutor in Biblical Studies, Bristol Baptist College, UK
Dr Mack McFarland, Principal Scientist, Environmental Program, DuPont, USA
Prof. Jesse N K Mugambi, University of Nairobi, Kenya
Dr John Mitchell, Meteorological Office, Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, UK
Rev. John Paarlberg, Minister for Social Witness and Worship, Reformed Church in America, USA
Dr Rafe Pomerance, Chairman, Board of Directors, Americans for Equitable Climate Solutions, USA
Dr Robert Watson, Director Environment, World Bank, Washigton DC, USA, and former Chairman of IPCC

Other Forum speakers and participants:

Myles Allen, Clarendon Laboratory, University of Oxford, UK
Claire Ashton, Research Engineer, Thames Water, UK; Director, John Ray Initiative
Graham Ashworth, Chairman, EnCams (Environmental Campaigns), UK; former President of the Baptist Union, UK
Peter Bakken, Coordinator of Outreach and Research Fellow, Au Sable Institute, USA
James Ball, Director, Evangelical Environmental Network, USA
Kara Unger Ball, Member, Board of Trustees, Au Sable Institute, USA
Rachel Bardsley, University of Gloucestershire, UK
Jerry Beilby, Chair, Department of Science and Mathematics, Northwestern College, USA
Pam Berry, Terrestrial Ecology and Biodiversity Group, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, UK
Paul Bodenham, Energy and Climate Change Campaign Co-ordinator, Nottingham, UK
Peter Bright, Director, John Ray Initiative, UK; Former External Affairs, Shell International
Ann Brown, Jubilee Centre, Cambridge UK
Edward Brown, Chief Operating Officer, Au Sable Institute, USA
Donald Bruce, Director, Society, Religion and Technology Project, Church of Scotland
Roger N. Brummel, Member of the Board of Trustees, Au Sable Institute, USA
Bruce Buursma, Corporate Communications, Herman Miller Inc., MI, USA
David Byers, Executive Director, Committee on Science and Human Values, US Conference of Catholic Bishops, USA
Bob Carling, Freelance Science Editor, Southampton, UK; Adviser to The John Ray Initiative
Peter Carruthers, Executive Director, The John Ray Initiative, UK
J Stafford Carson, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, USA
Professor James Clark, Geology and Environmental Science, Wheaton College, USA
Richard Davis, Communications Advisor, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand
Jae A. Edmonds, Chief Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Joint Global Change Research Institute at the University of Maryland, USA
Glen Fell, Professor of Agriculture, MidAmerica Nazarene University, USA
Doreen J. Ferko, California State University at Fullerton, USA
Thomas E. Ferko, Assistant Professor of Physical Science, California Baptist University, USA
David Foster, Director, Oakes Museum, Messiah College, USA
Douglas Grace, Director, Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign, National Religious Partnership for the Environment, Washington, USA
Herbert Grover, Associate Professor of Biology, Hardin-Simmons University, USA
Keith Hitchman, Chaplain University of Gloucestershire, UK
Diana Hoare, Green Apostle, Diocese of Hereford, UK
Martin Hodson, Principal Lecturer in Environmental Biology, Oxford Moore’s University, UK
Margot Hodson, Curate, St John’s Church, Grove, Oxfordshire, UK
Geoff Hogan, Research Physicist, Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford
Alycia Ashburn Holtebeck, Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin, USA
Juliana Horne, Environmentalist, Colombia, South America
Paul Houghton, Treasurer, John Ray Initiative, UK; Further Education Tutor in Science
John G. Kelly, Lecturer in Systematic Theology, St John’s College, Nottingham, UK
Robert S. Keys, Assistant Professor of Science, Cornerstone University, USA
Sarah La Trobe, Public Policy Officer for Environment and Disasters, Tearfund, UK
Phil Leigh, Diocese of Liverpool, UK
John Mead, Member of UNED Stakeholder Forum Climate Change and Energy Panel; Member of ITDG
Mike Morecroft, Ecologist, NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology & Oxford University, UK; Director, John Ray Initiative
Shirley Morrison, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, USA
Terence Morrison, Director, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, USA
Benito Mueller, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, UK
Harrison Murbi, AISRED, University of Nairobi, Kenya
David Pickering, Eco-Congregation Co-ordinator, UK
William Randolph, Dean, Division of Natural and Social Sciences, Northwest College, USA
A. Relton, Heber Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, Bishop Heber College, India
Colin Russell, Emeritus Professor in History of Science, The Open University and the University of Cambridge, UK; Director, John Ray Initiative
Zachary Sheely, Westmont College, USA
Amanda Sparkman, Westmont College, USA
Eric Steinkamp, Northwest College, USA
Fred Taylor, Professor of Atmospheric Physics, and Fellow of Jesus College, University of Oxford, UK
David Thistlethwaite, Administrator, John Ray Initiative, UK
Janet Trotter, Principal, University of Gloucestershire, UK
John Twidell, Director, AMSET Centre for Renewable Energy, UK; Visiting Professor in Renewable Energy Engineering, University of Reading, UK
Melissa Van Ee, Au Sable Institute, USA