A Christian Response to Climate Change

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As a contribution to thinking about climate change during COP21, the Christian conservation organisation A Rocha is partnering with the Lausanne Creation Care Network to produce a day-long conference on Saturday, 5 December at St Michael’s Church, 5 rue d’Aguesseau, 75008 Paris (Metro Concorde and Madeleine, lines 1, 8, 12, 14 or Miromesnil, lines 9 and 13).

The conference will be in two parts.

Download the conference poster, the timetable and the full conference programme

Due to technical issues on the day, we have been unable to share the recordings of the talks. However, if you would like to listen to the basic sound files, please contact us.


 

Programme

Introduction: 9:15–9:30

Antoine Bret - circleSpeaker 1: 9:30–10:15

Dr. Antoine Bret

Associate Professor, Universidad Castilla-La Mancha, Spain

 

Title: Can climate science be trusted? (in French with simultaneous translation)

Abstract: On the occasion of COP21 many Christian leaders are taking action in relation to climate change, which is increasingly being seen as a question of social justice. Pope Francis has just published an encyclical on this subject; the Pax Christi network is taking action on climate matters; the Protestant Federation of France has just published a text and is calling on its members to take part in the ‘climate fast’; the French National Council of the WEA has also just distributed a declaration by the Protestant Evangelical Ethics Committee calling for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. But many Christians are still sceptical: can one really trust climate science? Even if there is warming, is it really caused by human activity? This presentation will tackle the underlying physics and observations in relation to these two questions and try to explain why the scientific community is no longer divided on these things, even if the general public is.

Speaker biography: Antoine is a physicist and a Professor at the University of Castilla-La Mancha at Ciudad Real, Spain. His first degree in electrical engineering (1991) was from the prestigious Supelec institution. His Physics Doctorate (1994) was gained at Orsay University where he also taught. His area of expertise is plasma physics theory and its applications in thermonuclear fusion and astrophysics. He was a Visiting Scholar in the Astrophysics Department at Harvard University in 2012 and 2014. He is the author of a book resulting from 10 years of university teaching on energy and climate questions: ‘The Energy-Climate Continuum: Lessons from Basic Science and History’. He has also worked for a French evangelical church and was a pastor in Madrid for one year.

Jean-Francois Mouhot-circleSpeaker 2: 10:15–11:00

Dr Jean-François Mouhot

Director, Les Courmettes, A Rocha France

 

Title: Climate Chains: The parallel between historical slavery and energy slavery (in French with simultaneous translation)

Abstract: History can offer many insights into our current climate crisis. What I do today with my ‘energy slaves’ (machines that work for us) is not very different from what slave-owners of the past did with their slaves. I will draw on this modern parable to see what our Christian response should be to the challenge of climate change.

Speaker biography: Jean-François was trained as an environmental historian and worked as a researcher in universities in France, Britain and the US. He has written a book and several articles on climate change issues. His desire to serve his Lord Jesus Christ and to be a witness for creation care led him to join the A Rocha team in June 2014.

Coffee break: 11:00–11:30

Dominic Roser - circleSpeaker 3: 11:30–12:15

Dr Dominic Roser

James Martin Fellow, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford

 

Title: Bringing Justice to a Hotter World

Abstract: Climate change is not only a scientific and a political issue. It is at heart a moral issue. Unfortunately, our moral conscience developed its sense of right and wrong mostly for small-scale, personal interactions rather than for global, long-term challenges such as climate change. Climate change thus presents us with unprecedented and unfamiliar questions of justice. We therefore need to ask: How can we make lifestyle and policy choices that allow not only ourselves to flourish, but also our sisters and brothers across the globe, our own grandchildren, and our fellow creatures from the animal kingdom?

Speaker biography: Dominic Roser is a political theorist at the University of Oxford and also the Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology. His research focuses on the ethics of climate change. This includes issues such as intergenerational justice, global justice, the ethics of risk, human rights, and the normative foundations of climate economics. He co-authored an introductory book on climate ethics which is available in German and soon also in English. He belongs to an Anglican church and has been active in various Christian political initiatives in Switzerland.

Dave Bookless-circleSpeaker 4: 12:15–13:00

Reverend Dave Bookless

Director of Theology for A Rocha International

 

Title: The Bible and the Climate

Abstract: What does it mean to say ‘Jesus is Lord!’ in a time of Climate Change? The Bible was written before humanity’s impact on the environment was global, so how can we relate such an ancient text to such a modern problem? What does the Bible have to say more broadly about humanity’s place within nature and our God-given responsibilities to the earth.

Speaker biography: Dave has worked with A Rocha since 1997, first as an International Trustee, then from 2001 with A Rocha UK as co-founder (with his wife Anne), National Director, and then Director for Theology, Churches & Sustainable Communities. He joined the A Rocha International team in September 2011. His role as Advisor for Theology and Churches includes providing advice and resources for ARI’s Trustees, Team and national A Rocha organisations, and coordinating liaison with international theological and mission networks and organisations. He is also studying for a part-time PhD at Cambridge University on biblical theology and biodiversity conservation.

Lunch break: 13:00–14:30

Workshops: 14:30–15:45

Paul Hege - circleWorkshop 1

Paul Hege

Environmental advisor to Emmaeus Deaconesses and Domaine de l’Emmanuel Association

 

Title: Environmentally responsible local churches (in French with simultaneous translation)

Abstract: The local church is a good place to raise awareness, act and make a relevant Christian contribution to discussions on the environment, climate, etc. We can do this by:

Speaker biography: Following engineering studies , Paul Hege worked in industry then in technical education. In 2011-2012 he studied for and gained an Environmental Advisors Masters at INSA in Strasbourg and now advises medical and social welfare institutions on more environmentally responsible operations. He is also a member of the pastoral team of the Mennonite church in Strasbourg.

Max Boegli - circleWorkshop 2

Dr. Max Boegli

Swiss Electronics and Microtechnology Centre, Neuchâtel, Switzerland

 

Title: Climate Change – Signs of Hope (in French with simultaneous translation)

Abstract: By going back to our Christian roots and listening to our Catholic and Orthodox brothers we will attempt to discover rays of hope which can be markers for our lives in times of crisis and climate change.

Particular attention will be paid to the natural rhythms of life using the Trinity as a guide: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Speaker biography: Max Boegli is an electrical engineer with a doctorate in analysis and monitoring of dynamic systems. He was active for several years in humanitarian work including telecommunications in conflict zones and demining of antipersonnel mines.

Max is currently working in the field of renewable energies and in research and development of ‘clean’ and sustainable technologies.

Touched by the gospel message, he has worked in particular with school and university Christian Unions in French-speaking Switzerland.

He is involved in A Rocha Switzerland in raising climate change awareness and our role as Christians.

Chris Walley - circleWorkshop 3

Dr Chris Walley

Mediterranean Science and Conservation Projects Coordinator, A Rocha International

 

Title: God, geology and climate

Abstract: Geological science is now beginning to unravel the long and complicated history of the Earth’s climatic changes, which includes both ice ages and long episodes of high temperatures. This workshop will discuss in simple terms how we know the temperatures of the past and outline how we believe that these have changed over time. We will then discuss how this information can be applied to our concerns over climate change and how Christians should view this.

Speaker biography: Chris has worked for 40 years as a professional geologist, during which time he has been an oil company consultant, an academic researcher and a college lecturer. He has also written a number of popular theological books including The Life, a Portrait of Jesus with the evangelist J John, which has sold over 150,000 copies.

Antoine Bret - circleWorkshop 4

Dr. Antoine Bret

Associate Professor, Universidad Castilla-La Mancha, Spain

 

Title: Can climate science be trusted? – discussion (in French with simultaneous translation)

An opportunity to explore further the topics raised in Antoine’s earlier talk.

Dave Bookless-circleWorkshop 5

Reverend Dave Bookless

Director of Theology for A Rocha International

 

Title: The Bible and the Climate – discussion

An opportunity to explore further the topics raised in Dave’s earlier talk.

Coffee break: 15:45–16:15

Bishop Efraim Tendero-circleRachel HauserSpeaker 5: 16:15–17:00

Bishop Efraim Tendero

Secretary General, World Evangelical Alliance

With Rachel Hauser – Servants team, Manilla

Title: Facing Climate Change as a daily Reality: Christian Perspectives from the Philippines

Abstract: The Philippines now suffers more than 20 cyclones each year, leading to increasing landslides, rainfall, poverty and death. We will hear how evangelical Christians are working both amongst the poorest communities (who are often driven to flee to the city to escape rural poverty), and also working to build an effective coalition, raising awareness and campaigning for climate justice.

Speaker biography: Bishop Efraim Tendero, widely known as Bishop Ef, was appointed as Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance in early 2015. Previously, he served as National Director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), 30,000 evangelical churches, for more than 20 years, and was also President of the Philippine Relief and Development Services (PHILRADS) which works with local churches to serve the poor and needy. He has been active in engaging with Government, including as a mediator in the peace process with Moro rebels, and in mobilising faith groups on Climate Change. Bishop Tendero has a BA in Theology from Febias College of Bible and a Master of Divinity with focus on pastoral counselling from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, as well as three honorary Doctorates. Bishop Tendero and his wife Sierry have four children and two grandchildren.

Rachel Hauser was born and raised in Switzerland and has lived and served Christ in poor communities of Manila for 20 years through the international group SERVANTS

Lowell Bliss - circleKuki-circleSpeaker 6: 17:00–17:15

Lowell Bliss and Kuki Rokhum

Director of Eden Vigil / Director – Training and Mobilisation, EFICOR

 

Title: The Lausanne Movement and Climate Change: Cape Town Commitment, Jamaica Call to Action, and Global Campaign

Abstract: A brief report from the Lausanne Movement will explain how evangelical Christians are being mobilized to respond to the climate crisis. The Cape Town Commitment proclaimed the challenge, the Jamaica Creation Care Call to Action defined it, and now regional conferences – including one planned for Europe – are implementing local and practical action.

Biography: Lowell Bliss serves the international climate coordination of the Lausanne Creation Care Network, and chaired the writing team of the Jamaica Creation Call to Action. A church-planting missionary for fourteen years in India and Pakistan, Lowell is now the director of Eden Vigil and the author of Environmental Missions: Planting Churches and Trees. He and his wife, Canadian Robynn Bliss, live with their three children in the tall grass prairie ecosystem of Kansas, USA.

Lalbiakhlui Rokhum – more popularly known as Kuki – is currently the Director – Training and Mobilisation of EFICOR (Evangelical Fellowship of India Commission on Relief – an Indian Christian relief, development and training organization) where she has worked since 2002. Kuki is passionate about issues of justice and is involved in teaching about issues such as HIV and AIDS and creation care and climate change. She has also been involved in the Micah Challenge campaign in India.

Plenary session with all speakers: 17:15-18:00

Dinner break

Video message and worship: 19:30–20:00

A video message by Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals, especially recorded for this conference. The NAE has just formulated its official position on climate change and it is this resolution that Leith will be presenting exclusively.

A time of worship will follow, accompanied by musicians from St Michael’s Church.

Bishop Efraim Tendero-circleSpeaker 7: 20:00–20:45

Bishop Efraim Tendero

Secretary General, World Evangelical Alliance

 

Title: The Gospel and the Climate: Climate Change as a Global Issue for Evangelicals

Abstract: We must challenge the false perception that evangelical Christians care only about spiritual and ‘other-worldly’ matters. God calls us to care both for the poor and the planet – God’s good creation. Climate Change is a daily reality for millions of the world’s poor, and it is a matter of faithful discipleship, of justice, and of worshipping Jesus as Lord, to ensure a healthy climate for future generations and our fellow creatures. God is calling us to respond!

Speaker biography: Bishop Efraim Tendero, widely known as Bishop Ef, was appointed as Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance in early 2015. Previously, he served as National Director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), 30,000 evangelical churches, for more than 20 years, and was also President of the Philippine Relief and Development Services (PHILRADS) which works with local churches to serve the poor and needy. He has been active in engaging with Government, including as a mediator in the peace process with Moro rebels, and in mobilising faith groups on Climate Change. Bishop Tendero has a BA in Theology from Febias College of Bible and a Master of Divinity with focus on pastoral counselling from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, as well as three honorary Doctorates. Bishop Tendero and his wife Sierry have four children and two grandchildren.

KHayhoe - circleSpeaker 8: 20:45–21:30

Dr Katharine Hayhoe

Director of the Climate Science Center, Texas Tech University

 

Title: A Climate for Change

Abstract: Climate is changing because of our actions, therefore our choices matter. We can choose to lessen our impact on the climate and to adapt to the effects such as drought, rising sea levels, and storms of increasing intensity. We can also choose the degree to which we will suffer.

But how do we determine, for example, where to go with these choices, what is too much suffering, what is enough mitigation? The science does not answer those questions.

When people talk about climate solutions, they tend to use words that raise fear in people. Fear about change, about economic hardship, about taxes. But this is where faith and values come in. In the Bible we have Jesus’s call to love our neighbour in all aspects of life. We should use love to consider how our actions are impacting other people, and then move forward not in fear, but in power – recognizing that we can accomplish great things.

Speaker biography: Katharine Hayhoe: climate scientist, communicator, educator and evangelical Christian. She received a degree in physics and astronomy from the University of Toronto, and her masters’ and PhD in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is an atmospheric scientist and associate professor of political science at Texas Tech University, where she is director of the Climate Science Center. She has authored more than 60 peer-reviewed publications, and wrote the book A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions together with her husband, Andrew Farley. She also co-authored some reports for the US Global Change Research Program, as well as some National Academy of Sciences reports, including the 3rd National Climate Assessment, released on May 6, 2014. She has also served as an expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment Report.

Plenary session: 21:30-21:55

Closing words (Henri Blocher): 21:55-22:00

Benediction and close: 22:00

 

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