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Submitted By naty
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We all hear about this word at one point and time in our lives… climate change. Hot

summers, cold winters, and bush fires, air pollution and rising sea levels, yet no one

seems to question what the cause is of this issue. Who is directly involved and what

are stakeholders such as the Australian government, economy and the Christian

perspective doing in order to combat this issue. According to UNFCC climate change

is defined as “ a change in climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human

activity that changes the composition of the global atmosphere in which is in

addition to the natural climate variability observed over a compatible time periods”.

Greenhouse effect is defined by the Australian Academy for Science as a barrier that

traps heat energy in order to keep the planet warm. The average temperature is

approximately 15 Celsius without he greenhouse effect the temperature would reach

to approximately -­‐18 degrees Celsius. Most scientists agree this is due to the

increased amount of cars in the cities for example in Sydney there is approximately

35% of cars on the road this causes emissions such as carbon dioxide to be released

into the atmosphere. Climate change addresses difficult matters such as science,

economics and politics. The people who are in the most risk are the poor people.

Wealthy nations however experience a lower risk due to the fact that they are simply

able to look after themselves. Social justice is a measure or ordering of people, which

seeks to bring into existence social relationships that guarantee the possibility of

distributive justice. Social justice demands that institutions of society are orderly in a

way that makes it possible to protect the rights of those who are not able to speak up

for themselves. This term can also be referred to as advocacy. This essay will

describe the issue of climate change and the role that stakeholders have in this issue

Climate change

and how they uphold the common good.

Climate change is considered an issue of social justice due to the fact that developing

countries end up paying the price for the greenhouse gasses that are emitted by

richer countries such as the United States and Australia. According to the QCEA the

reason climate change is a social justice issue concern is that small islands will be

affected by rising sea levels. Communities that reside in those areas will have to

move elsewhere because their homes will be affected by rising sea levels. This is a

type of injustice because people in the poorer nations will be affected the most, while

wealthy countries keep on producing carbon emissions. According to a paper named

Millennium goals, which was published by the university of Sussex, stated, “it has

become more apparent that the poorer nations will continue to become exposed to

extreme weather events and the impacts of climate change”. The concepts that were

discussed by the stakeholders in the climate change discussion were adaptation and


Perspective 1: From the perspective of developing countries their belief is that countries such as

Australia and the United States have breached the laws that were instated at the

Declaration of the United Nations Conference on human environment. According to

(Keely Blom, 2012), “ it is not the duty of small islands such as Palau to take the

blame for the issues that are caused by the wealthier countries. As a result they

had to resort to other measures in order to make sure that they are protected and

not caught up in the debates of the richer countries. Countries such as Australia

should be practicing the principal of Human equality. An example of common good

that these countries can demonstrate is by taking up the cost and instead of allowing

the poorer nations to pay for tax they should take up the most responsibility due to

the fact that they are ultimately responsible for emitting a high amount of carbon

dioxide. Human flourishing demands that we cannot work on our own we need the

helps of others in order to bring about the common good. The principals that are

closely related to this is participation and service. Participation in terms of this issue

is that the wealthier nations mainly the United States and Australia should

participate in the decisions that affect the lives of the people in Palau, because we are

at the end of the day stewards of Gods creation who are called to look after the things

he places in our hands with responsibility. The participation by involving the

community will allow each person to take responsibility for their actions and in turn

help them recognize their human rights and abilities to change the environment

around them. The policies that are implemented by the countries will be based on the

solidarity of both parties. But participation alone is not enough because people in

wealthier nations still get to decide who can participate and it leaves the small

islands like Palau with no say at all. In the end they have to pay taxes even when they

are not the main contributors of the greenhouse emissions. Another principal that

can be applied to the issue of climate change is service. Service is mainly based on

government being able to improve the circumstances of others and not just being

there for power and wealth. Governments have the responsibility to God as the main

source of authority and secondly to the people who reside in the country. This is the

correct way in which power should be used to serve the common good of the person,

which relates to the CST teachings.

From the Christian perspective they believe that human flourishing in relation to

climate change that it is our responsibility to develop a right relationship with God,

creatures’, humans and others. The framework of Christianity often thrives on being

rational, not atomized consumers of utility. We as a Christian community need to

establish a relationship with God as our ultimate source and destination, and be an example to others so that they can implement those principals of common good to

promote a better future for the next generations. Firstly, human flourishing depends

on the quality of goods. There is a limit to individual well being in a larger social and

environmental setting in which others fail to survive which commons are

endangered. Where peace is at the wellbeing of the wealthier nations might be

defensible for a while, but I am unable to flourish indefinitely when others that are

suffering from the loss of their environment and resources. To be able to sustain

global and public goods essential to human flourishing is or should be the first

priority of development. Secondly, human flourishing should work hand in hand with

the stewardship of the world’s resources. As noted in the CST teaching is that there is

allot of emphasis on work and its relationship to working side by side with God and

others. The models and policies that are implemented by society should shift our

focus to the concern of others well being rather than taking their goods. Ultimately

our part in the stewardship of creation should start from our mindset. Lastly, human

flourishing works in partnership with social justice. We as people are petitioned to act justly and love mercy. Injustice ultimately results when we forget our

responsibilities to look after the poor and often reflect our relationship with God.

We are called according to Mark 12:31” to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Jesus demonstrated this principal by caring more about the needs of the poor rather

than his own.” by respecting the honesty of the distribution of resources which

ultimately depend on how we utilize these principals of common good. This is an

example that the government should follow so that dis advantaged people are not

affected by the effects of climate change. From the perspective of the International and intergovernmental their belief is that “

The parties (195 countries), should take responsibility to protect the climate system

for the benefit of the present and future generations of human kind, on the basis of

equity and in accordance to their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. Accordingly, the developed countries should take the lead in

combating climate change and the side effects of it. The solution that the IPCC came

up with was that in order to prevent catastrophic climate change, global

temperatures increases had to be limited to a rise of 2 degrees Celsius. In order for it

to be a success concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere had to be below 350ppm. Both stakeholders acknowledged these limits at the UNFCCC in Copenhagen 2009,

but no implementation to the limit the amount of emissions was taken, this resulted

in the parties not coming to an agreement. The principals that align with this

perspective are solidarity, prudence, stewardship, and preferential option for the

poor. Pope Benedict XVI defined solidarity, as “the environment is Gods gift to

everyone, and in our use to it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards the

future generations and humanity as a whole. In other words what pope benedict

meant is in order for policies to be implemented properly and function well in

society, preventing climate change they have to suite the needs of both classes of

society in order to bring about the common good. Policies should not affect the poor

to the extent that they aren’t able to look after their wellbeing. In the end my opinion

is that the poor should not be responsible for the decisions that are made by the

government, because ultimately in the end the government is the biggest culprit of

climate change. Pope Benedict XVI defined stewardship or cares for Gods creation as

upholding the environment through promoting a sustainable development by paying

attention to climate changes because it affects the matters of the whole society.

Ultimately, we will have to take into account how we will steward our societies so

that in the near future we can be able to pursue new goals and measures of success

even though in the same manner we face the same difficult challenges of the

changing climate and the switching over from using fossil fuels. Lastly, another

principle that was defined by Pope Benedict XVI is called prudence. Prudence is “ the

virtue that tells us of what needs to be done today in the view of what might

happen tomorrow.” This principle when put into action requires that we as a people

should respect the predictions of the scientific authorities simply by paying

attention. A study conducted by the USCCB in 2001, prudence is a very essential

principle in order to combat climate change because it affects the poor, our society

and the future of the next generation. Through the use of scientific data we will be

able to determine the effects of climate change on our environment and come up

with solutions to the cause of this problem before its too late.

To conclude, the only way that climate change can be combated is through the use of

principles such as solidarity, prudence, preferential option for the poor and simply

valuing the rights of all humans in society. Ultimately the only thing that can prevent

the effects of climate change is by providing education to the younger generations so

that too can make a difference in their environments. Candidates who determine the

policies should consider how the plans would benefit the shared resources and the

common ecological future. Wealthier countries such as the United States and

Australia should be encouraged to move past the focus of understanding the climate

within a global framework. Climate change challenges stakeholder and countries to

work together in order to combat this issue by raising their focus to the long-­‐term

sustainability on security and the development of humans in the global community.

Stakeholders who are aware of the links between the health of the natural world and

wellbeing of human communities will become good leaders. If stakeholders don’t

take a responsibility to try and combat climate change the ones that will be affect the

most is the poor. Ultimately, by providing education to the communities and the

people in developing countries we are in turn practicing the principal of common

good. Knowledge is power and this might change our view on climate change and

possibly reverse or decrease the carbon emissions in our environment.

Referencing: Australian Academy of Science, “The Science of Climate Change: Questions and Answers” (2010), 16. Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, “Technical Summary,” (Cambridge University Press, 2001), 71. E Ostrom (1990), Governing the Commons, Cambridge UP: Cambridge Edward Deberri et al. Catholic Social Teaching, Our Best Kept Secret. 2003. IPCC, 2007: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 7-­‐22.

IPCC documents are available at Keely Blom, See you in court: the rising tide of international climate litigation, 2011, retrieved from­‐you-­‐in-­‐court-­‐the-­‐rising-­‐tide-­‐of-­‐ international-­‐climate-­‐litigation-­‐3542 Paul Collier, The Bottom Billion, Why the Poor Countries are Failing and What Can be Done About it (Oxford University Press, 2008).

Pope John Paul II, The Ecological Crisis: A Common Responsibility, (U. S. Catholic Conference, 1999)

Prudence, poverty, the common good and solidarity Prof. Kurt Lambeck, Australian academy of science, The science of climate change 2010, retrieved from U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Tearfund (2009a), Conflict, near-­‐collapse and chaos in Copenhagen, Tearfund: London, Dec. 2009

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