“Give your love of justice to the king, O God … Help him judge your people in the right way; let the poor always be treated fairly.” Psalm 72:1-2
I recently wrote the President of the United States to urge him not to abandon the Paris Accord on climate change. The accord was adopted by almost 200 countries – essentially the entire world. Several days ago, long after he declared his intention to reject the Paris agreement, the White House sent an email to explain Trump’s decision.
In a nutshell, the letter said, it’s not fair. It’s an unfair burden on us; it’s unfair to taxpayers and consumers if energy costs us more; it’s unfair if we have to support poorer nations through the Green Climate Fund.
We all want justice – fairness – from those in power. So does our God: “I the Lord, love justice,” we hear in Isaiah 61:8.
So as we hear the US president telling us about fairness, let’s consider some of the elements of justice impacted by climate change:
- The average American accounts for 16.4 tons of carbon emissions per year, compared with 7.6 tons for China, and 5.0 tons for the entire world.
- The most climate-vulnerable countries in the world generate tiny fractions of greenhouse gases per capita compared to the US – Bangladesh (0.4 tons), Honduras and Philippines (1.0 ton), and Vietnam (1.7 tons).
- The US has become one of the wealthiest countries in the world by burning fossil fuels that have destabilized the global climate.
- By mid-century, there may be as many as 200 million climate refugees in the world, as nations succumb to famine, drought, flooding and rising sea levels caused by climate disruption.
Whether President Trump ultimately succeeds in walking away from the global struggle to save our climate systems, let us pray for our leaders to be fair, and to take ownership of a challenge we and our parents contributed to in a major way.
O God of love and justice, we pray that you give your love of fairness to all of us who struggle to raise our voices in the public arena, and to all those in power. We acknowledge our contribution to the problems besetting your creation, and ask for grace to work for the good of our sisters and brothers around the globe. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
For further learning:
- Climate refugee estimates: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/13092015/migrant-crisis-syria-europe-climate-change
- Climate-warming emissions by country: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EN.ATM.CO2E.PC?name_desc=false&view=map
- Who suffers most from climate disruption: http://reliefweb.int/report/world/global-climate-risk-index-2017-who-suffers-most-extreme-weather-events-weather-related