Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative

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Webinar on “Geoengineering and Faith Communities”

Cynthia Scharfby Cynthia Scharf / April 10, 2018

In its efforts to raise awareness of geoengineering and the need for its effective governance, C2G2 has made outreach with faith communities a priority. Why faith groups? There are numerous reasons, but perhaps the most important is that geoengineering raises profound ethical questions concerning justice (including intergenerational justice), equity, human hubris and stewardship of the Earth, our common home.

With over 80 percent of the world’s population identifying itself as belonging to a religion, faith communities are a key sector of society and particularly well suited to explore these concerns.

In early April, C2G2 co-organized a webinar with GreenFaith, an interfaith non-governmental organization that works to educate, inspire and mobilize people around the world of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership.

The goal of this first webinar was to introduce geoengineering to interested faith leaders from a range of religious backgrounds. A panel of four experts provided the scientific, political, governance and theological context for why these technologies are attracting greater attention, and to tease out some of the underlying ethical issues they present.

Reverend Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith, moderated a panel discussion with Dr. Mark Lawrence, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies; Drew Jones, co-founder of Climate Interactive; Cynthia Scharf, C2G2, and Dr. Forrest Clingerman, co-editor, Theological and Ethical Perspectives on Climate Engineering.

As Dr Clingerman noted, religions help people make sense of the world and explore meaning, including what does it mean to deliberately alter global ecosystems, and what is humanity relationship to the natural world. Faith communities can help society come explore these deeper questions and provide a moral framework with which to assess geoengineering’s risks, potential benefits and role in the global response to climate change.

C2G2 will continue working with GreenFaith, as well as with other groups, to extend our outreach to faith communities globally, as we seek a broader, society-wide discussion on how geoengineering should be governed in ways that place ethical concerns at the center of that discourse.

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