On October 8, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a long-awaited report detailing the effects of a 1.5-degree C global temperature rise. The report was commissioned by the parties to the Paris Agreement. The body has typically used 2-degree C warming as its baseline, and this marks the first time it has explored the lower temperature threshold laid out in the Agreement. The report finds that contrary to prior assumptions, a 1.5-degree C warmer world still presents dire consequences, particularly for ecosystems and people living near coasts, on islands, and in poverty. However, the report also finds that a 1.5-degree C warmer world is significantly less dangerous than a 2-degree C warmer world, and must be pursued vigorously.
The newest report from the IPCC confirms what we’ve known for years: we are not doing enough. We are not curbing our emissions quickly enough. We are not investing enough in clean energy technologies. We are not doing enough to help vulnerable populations adapt to current climate impacts. We are not listening to our global neighbors who are telling us that their livelihoods and very lives are in grave danger. The most ambitious action the world has taken to date—signing the Paris Agreement—would still only get us to a 3-degree C warmer world. A future that was dubious before the most recent IPCC findings, and which is now utterly unthinkable.
The report has many important findings about a 1.5-degree warmer world vs. a 2-degree one—from more Arctic sea ice to salvaging some of the world’s coral reefs to preserving the livelihoods of millions of the world’s poorest people. One finding, though, is most clarifying: there is still time.
There is still time to dramatically curb our greenhouse gas emissions. There is still time to drastically scale up clean energy production. There is still time to invest in climate resiliency and adaptation. There is still time, but the window is small.
This report underscores what Y.E.C.A. has known and advocated all along: the world has a moral obligation to do everything it can to slow and halt climate change. We understand the consequences of inaction more fully than ever. The technical solutions are well-known and available. All that remains is the political will to do it.
As young evangelicals, we will continue to do everything we can to build that political will. The stakes for our neighbors—image bearers of the Creator each—are too high. The consequences of the status quo borne by God’s good creation are too severe. The costs of inertia and apathy to our generation’s future are too steep.
In the light of this report and the manifest damage posed by a changing climate, we declare that inaction is unfaithful, apathy is unloving, and complicity is blasphemy. For the sake of God’s world, for the good of our neighbors, and for our very futures, we must and will act.