This morning I got a little political. It happens from time to time, usually on matters relating to justice. And today’s topic that’s got me all fired up is fossil fuel subsidies.
To be clear – I know we live in a petroleum-extractive economy. I know that my environmental footprint is FAR from neutral. I know that I directly support this unsustainable industry.
And yet – I also know that I do what I can to try to reduce my footprint – I eat local foods, I plan my travel to keep it minimal, I try to make ‘greener’ choices in my purchases.
So it is not the industry itself that I am ranting against today, it is the global subsidising of that industry. So why am I against these subsidies? I’ll limit myself to two overarching reasons here.
Firstly, the economy. We’re in a global recession – again. Economies are failing, government budgets are scary, unemployment is increasing (along with subsequent poverty, hunger, ill-health).
Secondly, the earth. Climate change is a scary reality. The earth won’t be able to sustain human (or other) life very long if we keep destroying it.
This year alone, approximately $1TRILLION is being injected into the fossil fuel industry as subsidies. Now, I know math isn’t my strongest area, but I do know that’s a LOT of money. A lot of money that comes from taxpayers. A lot of money that is supporting one industry while people are starving and unemployed. A lot of money that could be invested into less environmentally-damaging energy sources. A lot of money that could make a lot of difference.
The facts support my bleeding heart: aside from saving governments a lot of immediate cash, annual GDPs would start to increase almost immediately, and we could see a reduction in global carbon dioxide levels (6%) and primary energy demand (5%) by 2020. The IEA chief economist agrees that ending subsidies would provide for half the necessary carbon changes needed to tackle immediate levels of climate change. The subsidies are helping the rich get richer by literally handing cash to an industry making record profits. The subsidies are continuing despite the G20 pledge in 2009 to end them.
It’s not fair. It’s not just. It’s not right.
And I feel called to do something about it. In a practical, balanced way.
So I did some research – I’ve read articles, spoken with experts, tried to better understand what is happening and why. There were lots of numbers and fact sheets to sift through. I looked into a number of the groups who are staging protests and petitions at the Rio+20 Summit.
Then I prayed on it – I’ve read some eco-theology books specifically addressing fossil fuel realities. I have spent time delving into the scriptures that challenge us as Christians to care for creation, and suggest the ramifications for when we fail to do so.
And then I decided to take action and I got involved. I did this because I am a Christian, because I am a political animal, because I care about justice. I’m not going to physically show up to a protest, but I am making my voice heard. I signed a petition that will be delivered to world leaders at Rio+20. I got involved with the twitterstorm (a virtual deluge of tweets using the hashtag #EndFossilFuelSubsidies meant to garner attention through social media – it’s already trending!). I’ve been sharing this on my facebook, my blog, my twitter, and now here.
In all aspects of my life I feel called to speak out against injustice; I feel called to speak out for creation care. And while I know I’m not perfect, I do what I can. And so I feel called to speak out against these subsidies.
I know that blogging about this may be controversial, but I hope and pray that this very short reflection might at least get some of you thinking. Maybe this isn’t something you’ve ever thought of before. Maybe you disagree with me completely. Maybe you’re indifferent. Maybe you feel that Christians should not be political. Whatever your views and opinions, whatever your actions on this issue, I simply ask that you take some time to pray today. Let’s pray that the Spirit will guide our leaders in their meetings. Let’s pray that justice will be prevalent in their discussions of global matters. Let’s pray that the best possible solution will come forward and be embraced on a global scale. Let’s pray that all voices might be heard in a way that will bring greater glory to God.