Evangelical Leaders Say Carbon Dioxide Caps Would Harm Poor

Our Peyton Knight files a report from a Heritage Foundation event he attended today:

Today, at an event hosted by The Heritage Foundation, the Interfaith Stewardship Alliancereleased a new paper titled “A Call to Truth, Prudence and the Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming.”

According to the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, the paper is a direct response to the Evangelical Climate Initiative’s “Call to Action,” which was released earlier this year and has been the subject of some controversy within the evangelical community.

The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance’s “A Call to Truth” takes on the Evangelical Climate Initiative’s assertion that carbon dioxide emissions are causing soon-to-be catastrophic global warming, and, therefore, mandatory carbon dioxide emissions reductions are needed to prevent the catastrophe.

As they claim that global warming affects the poor the most, the Evangelical Climate Initiative signers presumably support Kyoto-style caps on carbon dioxide emissions because of their desire to help the poor. However, as Interfaith Stewardship Alliance panelists pointed out today, mandatory caps on carbon dioxide actually pose the bigger threat to the world’s poor, as their implementation would deny them basic necessities such as heating, cooling, modern health care and clean energy.

The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance paper states:

…the destructive impact on the poor of enormous mandatory reductions in fossil fuel use far exceeds the impact on them — negative or positive — of the moderate global warming that is most likely to occur. Indeed, the policy promoted by the Evangelical Climate Initiative would be both economically devastating to the world’s poor and ineffective at reducing global warming…

If the aim is to help the poor, what matters from the policy point of view is supporting the development process by which countries acquire greater ability to deal with adverse economic, climatic, and social conditions, regardless of cause. Put simply, poor countries need income growth, trade liberalization, and secure supplies of reliable, low-cost electricity. Rather than focusing on theoretically possible changes in climate, which varies tremendously anyway with El Nino, La Nina, and other natural cycles, we should emphasize policies — such as affordable and abundant energy — that will help the poor prosper, thus making them less susceptible to the vagaries of weather and other threats in the first place.

The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance’s “A Call to Truth” has been endorsed by over 130 leading evangelical scholars, theologians, scientists, economists, pastors and others with special expertise in one or more of the following: Climatology or related sciences, economics, environmental studies, theology or ethics.

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