The Benefits of Including Religion in a New Ethical Framework for Climate Change Policy-making

By Angela J. Thomson.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The current framework for climate change policy-making does not possess a strong ethical
foundation, which is essential for sustained progress over the long term. What is required is a solid
ethical base from which to build a new framework–one which would acknowledge that the long-term
matters, and that future generations have a moral claim on what progress entails. So the question becomes–where can such a base be found? This paper posits that religion holds the key. The distinct
roles of religion in addressing environmental issues, and climate change in particular, evolve
primarily from religions ethical teachings, reach and influence, and ability to instruct, inspire and
mobilize adherents to action. It is because of these unique factors that religious involvement can help
to advance the essential ethical dimension that is often missing from scientific, economic, technological,
and policy discussion. The aim of this article therefore is to discuss the positive assets religious faiths
have in common that could be utilised in a new or reformed ethical framework for climate change
decision-making.

Keywords: Climate Change, Ethics, Religion, Policy-making, International Environmental Law

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp.25-42. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 864.896KB).

Angela J. Thomson

PhD Candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

I graduated from the University of Auckland in 2008 with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and a Master of Laws (LLM (Hons)) in 2009. I was admitted to the Bar in 2009. I am currently a PhD candidate within the Law Faculty of the University of Auckland. My research interests lie within the area of the ethical and international dimensions of environmental law. I am particularly interested in how ethical considerations may be integrated into legal principles in the area of climate change law. I was a research fellow with the New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law in 2008-2009, working under the directorship of Professor Klaus Bosselmann. I assisted in the organisation of the 2009 Conference “Property Rights and Sustainability: The Evolution of Property Rights to Meet Ecological Challenges.” I believe that climate change is a direct consequence of the present self-centred materialism of the world’s economic model. I believe global society requires new, ethical principles that aim to create a more just, healthy and equitable world for present and future generations. Religion can help to strengthen the ethical framework for action on climate change as it can educate about values and global responsibility, create motivation for change and encourage the necessary sacrifices to enact those changes.

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