Earth Summits

Often what we learn in Religious Studies interweaves with other school subjects.  For me that’s the best bit about Religious Studies: you can be considering evil and suffering and link it to the Holocaust which you’ve just been learning about in history, or you question how the world was created and remember about science and geography knowledge about rock formations and tectonic plates to support your arguments.

In the old AQA GCSE we have the topic of Planet Earth which is hugely influenced by science and geography learning. We have to know how the international community tries to deal with climate change and other environmental concerns. So we start with Rio…

cheesy rio 1992 logo

At the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 countries of the world met to discuss how we could promote sustainable development, that is develop our industry that doesn’t ruin the environment.

Rio earth summit stage shot

An earth summit is a conference of 100 or more world leaders debating global environmental and development issues, and specifically refers to that first big summit which was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Since then though the term has also been applied to similar events…
history of countries meeting to save the planet
 We don’t need to know all of these but it is useful to see that every year or so world leaders have been meeting to discuss and agree on how we should treat the environment. Now in most teenagers’ memories there should be 2015. The year that Uptown Funk, Cheerleader and Take Me To Church dominate the airwaves, and Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was all anybody wanted to see at the cinema. Well 2015 was also the year of the Paris World Climate Summit.
paris summit 2015
Whereas the common folk love a selfie, the politicians just love an official line up at the start or end of big conferences. Here most of them were in 2015:
leaders at paris
A lot of people were really excited about the Paris World Climate Summit because it gave the world the chance to agree on how they would reduce climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The world had an agreement but it was running out in 2020 so time was of the essence to agree on something new. Discussions were heated but eventually the world’s countries came up with  a “historic, durable and ambitious” plan:
  • Developed and developing countries alike are required to limit their emissions to relatively safe levels, of 2C with an aspiration of 1.5C, with regular reviews to ensure these commitments can be increased in line with scientific advice.
  • Finance will be provided to poor nations to help them cut emissions and cope with the effects of extreme weather.
  • Countries affected by climate-related disasters will gain urgent aid.

So people start shouting,”Three cheers for the world”, “Hip hip hooray”, but you should rarely celebrate when world leaders keep on changing and the new man in town isn’t a huge believer in climate change.

bill-nye-has-a-great-response-to-trumps-outrageous-statements-about-climate-change

Already Trump has started to tear away pollution laws put in place by the previous US president, and the big fear is that President Trump will pull out of the Paris agreement.

If world politicians aren’t saving the planet, what might religious believers be doing? Perhaps they are donating money to or supporting groups such as the Christian Operation Noah, Christian Aid, and the Global Muslim Climate Network. Or they are out protesting, writing letter to MPs, joining pressure groups like Greenpeace, voting for the Green Party, recycling more, fitting solar panels to their houses, driving electric cars, walking and cycling more often, and praying.

Or maybe they think like President Trump and don’t see climate change as being real at all.

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