As our local and global communities experience the effects of climate change, we as young evangelicals are taking action to promote responsible and comprehensive solutions. Although climate change demands an urgent policy response, we recognize the great variety of policy proposals and that each proposal has a distinct set of advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, Y.E.C.A. has developed the following broad principles for evaluating policy proposals to address climate change. These principles are designed to be applied to policies from across the political spectrum, and seek to consider the full range of impacts these policies will have on all members of the affected communities.
Christ calls his followers to solidarity with the poor and marginalized. Accordingly, climate policy must not unduly burden those with fewer resources to confront climate change and should recognize the different types and varying amounts of resources communities can contribute to a durable solution. Demanding uniform financial contributions across socioeconomic strata to carbon mitigation initiatives would be unsustainable, as it would make demands that disadvantaged people ultimately will be unable to meet. Equitable climate policy recognizes these discrepancies and crafts solutions that work to resolve inequality as part of the path to sustainability.
Climate policies must account for the increased vulnerability of individuals and people groups who have historically been marginalized or who have fewer resources. Overall, these people have contributed very little to historic greenhouse gas emissions, yet they are and will continue to be impacted by climate change most immediately and most intensely. Policymakers must take stock of this injustice and prioritize directing the benefits of any policies first to those communities most impacted by climate and environmental injustices. Furthermore, Scripture testifies to an even deeper vision of justice, or shalom, that extends beyond the human community and into the community of God’s whole creation. Therefore, policies should actively protect and contribute to the health and restoration of wildlife and ecosystems. We witness not only to the inherent value and beauty God sees in all creatures, but we also understand that the future of the human race has an unavoidable dependence upon the preservation of biodiversity and the resilience of ecological systems.
It is imperative that we respond to the urgent and global nature of the climate crisis through proportionate, scalable and immediate action. It is insufficient to sit idly by and hope for a breakthrough in energy technology or carbon sequestration to solve a problem rooted in humankind’s failure to steward God’s creation. Policies and actions must mobilize and structure our current resources in innovative ways to combat the unprecedented threats of climate change. Bold climate policy acknowledges the current economic and social inequities that are exacerbated by climate change and reimagines the ways in which we relate to God's creation and to each other, giving thoughtful consideration to how existing resources and institutions can be envisioned for a sustainable future.
Climate policy should prompt and encourage ambitious, coordinated efforts, both between political parties within our nation and between governments around the globe. Such coordination will gradually lead to a human existence less operationally and economically dependent on fossil fuels, resulting in a healthier, more vibrant society better aligned with God’s will for creation. Because some communities will need more assistance than others to transition into a more sustainable economy, investments in job re-training and infrastructure should be encouraged when appropriate. In sum, Christians should advocate for policies that restore our relationship with creation, neighbor and self. These efforts will be a reflection of Christ’s redemptive work that seeks to restore our relationships with God and all that God loves.
As Christians, we are called to seek truth. In order to dislodge the climate change conversation from political biases and personal assumptions, climate policies must be informed by objective, evidence-based science. While no climate model can perfectly predict the impacts of climate change under every potential scenario, there is sufficient information to understand the imminent risk and long-term threat of climate change. Furthermore, we must respect the challenges that come with a transition to a clean energy economy, acknowledging the well-known physical constraints that come with the otherwise exciting prospects of renewable energy technology. Accordingly, we can and must craft appropriate policy responses based on the best available peer-reviewed, evidence-based and theoretically-sound analyses.
Climate policy must implement strategies that allow for reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions that can be transparently monitored, reported and verified. Such strategies should equip communities already affected by climate change with the necessary tools to respond and adapt. Given the reality of negative economic externalities associated with climate change, climate policy should create positive incentives for individuals to decrease their carbon footprints and participate in community resilience projects. Ultimately, ambitious climate policy becomes achievable through thoughtful design processes and charitable consideration of our many neighbors with whom we share the responsibility of stewarding God’s creation.