Green Christian Press Release: 10 Nov 2015
Conference opens ‘new chapter’ in Christian economic witness
Christians were urged on Saturday 7 November to
“equip themselves to shape the debate on a future, more local, economy to replace the globalised economy”
Molly Scott Cato, formerly a professor of economics at Roehampton University and now MEP for South West England and speaker on finance for the Green Party, was addressing a conference on how churches might enable the shift to prosperity without growth in consumption and debt.
Two hundred delegates from Great Britain and Northern Ireland to launch an overhaul of the churches’ witness on economic justice in light of the crises facing the environment and capitalism today.
The conference, entitled The Economics of Hope, took place at St Michael’s Centre, Stoke Gifford, Bristol on Saturday 7 November 2015.
Green Christian was one of the very first national organisations to use their brand new auditorium.
Ms Scott Cato warned that national pledges tabled so far for the forthcoming Paris climate summit would lead to warming 2.7 degree Celsius. In the wake of the call by faith leaders on 19 October for zero emissions by mid-century, she argued that a growth-based economy cannot achieve the cuts in carbon emissions required.
“Our future economy cannot have the same level of energy intensity”
said Molly Scott Cato MEP. Noting the growing disparity between rich and poor she said
“We need to stop using growth as a substitute for equality of income.”
Jonathan Rowson, Director of the Social Brain Centre at the Royal Society of Arts also addressed the conference. Drawing on his ground-breaking report Spiritualise said that religious people have a felt sense of the problem of climate change, a body-sense of meaning. Likening the denial of death to the denial of climate change, he spoke of the need for a cultural shift from denial to confrontation. While not a identifying as a Christian himself, he urged Christians to draw on the profound significance of Easter, baptism and the Eucharist in confronting that denial.
The conference was organised by UK charity Green Christian (formerly Christian Ecology Link) as part of its ‘Joy in Enough’ initiative, with A Rocha UK and Speak. The initiative advocates a new economic purpose which respects the ecological limits of the Earth, and aims to place churches at the forefront of change.
Workshops examined the potential for churches to update their economic witness, ranging from ‘de-marketing’ with the Mothers’ Union to ‘economic education’ with Rethinking Economics, who since the financial crash have been working to transform how the subject is taught in universities.
Paul Bodenham, chair of Green Christian, said
“The churches have a centuries-long tradition of standing up for economic justice, and have much to be proud of, but the environmental crisis changes everything, from social teaching to campaigning. At The Economics of Hope we saw that change taking shape.”
“People instinctively understand that economic growth can’t go on forever. But governments seem to be oblivious, and even Christian NGOs have yet to take its implications on board. There are serious economists offering a positive, sustainable model of prosperity beyond growth. We’ve got to start talking about the elephant in the room, and embolden our politicians to do so. The 200 people who gathered today are the founders of a spirited movement seeking economic change, and we plan to publish a declaration next year to reach out to Britain’s churches and society at large”.
- Photo: Left to right: Paul Bodenham, Jonathan Rowson, Molly Scott Cato, Ruth Valerio (Churches and Theology Director, A Rocha UK). Credit: Green Christian
- The conference, entitled The Economics of Hope, took place at St Michael’s Centre, Bristol on Saturday 7 November 2015.
- Green Christian works with churches and individuals in search of sustainable living, by running conferences, workshops and retreats. It sponsors the LOAF campaign (eco-friendly food production), ecocell groups (carbon footprint reduction) and the Joy in Enough initiative, and publishes magazines, pamphlets and leaflets giving information about best environmental practice. Green Christian is a registered trading name of Christian Ecology Link (http://www.greenchristian.org.uk.)
- Molly Scott-Cato is the author of Green Economics (2009) and Environment and Economy (2011).
- Jonathan Rowson’s report Spiritualise was published in December 2014 https://www.thersa.org/discover/publications-and-articles/reports/spiritualise-revitalising-spirituality-to-address-21st-century-challenges/
- Statement from religious leaders for the upcoming COP21 https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/diakonia/climate-change/statement-from-religious-leaders-for-the-upcoming-cop21