Climate Change and Christian Witness
Church of the Brethren Statement on Global Climate Change

The threat to creation by global warming/climate change is a cause for concern for everyone on the planet, but for Christians the issue is more than a matter of self preservation; it is a matter of faithfulness.

Throughout its history, the Church of the Brethren has been concerned with good stewardship of God's creation. We are increasingly aware of the interrelatedness of all life. We acknowledge that energy use is linked to the ecological crisis facing the Earth, the health consequences for us and future generations, and spiritual well-being in relation to other species and our Creator.

Climate change is an issue of justice. The industrialized nations, representing less than 20 percent of the world's population, are responsible for 75 to 80 percent of the annual greenhouse gas emissions. Yet those who live in poor and developing countries will be most seriously affected by global warming.

A major challenge facing humankind is an equitable standard of living for this and future generations: adequate food, water, energy, safe shelter and a healthy environment. Human-induced climate change, along with land degradation, loss of biological diversity, and stratospheric ozone depletion, threatens our ability to meet these basic human needs.

An overwhelming majority of scientific experts, while recognizing that scientific uncertainties exist, believe that Hunan-induced climate change is occurring. Indeed, during the last few years, many parts of the world have suffered heat waves, flood, droughts, fire, and extreme weather events leading to significant economic losses and loss of life. In the past century, much of the world's polar and mountain ice has melted, and in the past few decades the melting has accelerated. While individual events cannot be directly linked to human-induced climate change, the frequency and magnitude of such events are predicted to increase in a warming world.

In recently revised estimates scientists conclude that if greenhouse emissions (produce mainly by burning fossil fuels) are not curtailed, the Earth's average surface temperatures may increase from 2.7 degrees to nearly 11 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, substantially more than the estimated 6.3 degrees in a 1995 report.*

The good news is, however, that the majority of experts believe that significant reductions in net greenhouse gas emissions are feasible due to an extensive array of technological and policy measures in the energy supply, energy demand, and agricultural and forestry sectors. In addition, the projected adverse effects of climate change on socioeconomic and ecological systems can, to some degree, be reduced through proactive adaptation measures.

Citizens of the United States of America have a particular obligation to address the threat of climate change. The US with 4.5 of the world population emits nearly 30 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.

WHEREAS the church, as the people of God, is called to be environmentally responsible in caring for God's creation as God's gift; and

WHEREAS the Annual Conference statement Creation Called to Care challenges us to take seriously our role as stewards of the Earth and to work for renewal of creation; and

WHEREAS our vastly increased use of fossil fuels has the potential to bring about irreversible changes in the climate and immense suffering for the poor and for people living in the coastal areas around the world;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Church of the Brethren General Board, meeting in New Windsor, Maryland on March 10-13, 2001, affirm the following principles:

As members of the Church of the Brethren, we are encouraged to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels; to build and renovate our homes, church facilities, and camp structures to be energy efficient; to initiate new programs of energy conservation and awareness; to use public transportation, carpooling, and teleconferencing to reduce fossil fuel consumption; to become ecologically aware by using diets and products that consume less energy in production, transportation, packaging, and use; to separate and recycle household goods and to reduce waste and toxic materials.

God redeems us to live in community with the created Earth. We will care for God's Earth in ways that are sustainable (Statement on Simple Life, 1996 Annual Conference minutes, p. #326).

Be it further resolved that the General Board ask staff to give priority to the issue of global warming/climate change; and provide models and educational resources for congregations, institutions, and members to study the issues; and take commensurate actions.


Ecology (Annual Conference, 1971)
Energy Crisis (General Board, 1973)
Concern on the Use of Energy and Resources (General Board, 1975)
Justice and Nonviolence (Annual Conference, 1977)
Christian Lifestyle (Annual Conference, 1980)
A Quest for Order (Annual Conference, 1987)
Global Warning and Atmospheric Degradation (General Board, 1991)
Creation: Called to Care (Annual Conference, 1991)
Simple Life (Annual Conference, 1996)

*From the Third Assessment Report (January 2001) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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