WASHINGTON – The United States takes climate change "seriously," declared President Bush on Friday as he called on both developed and developing nations to set long-term goals to reduce emissions.
"By setting this goal, we acknowledge there is a problem, and by setting this goal, we commit ourselves to doing something about it," he said at the Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Chang, according to CNN e.
For a growing number of Christians, the Bush administration's acknowledgement and effort to address climate change is encouraging news.
The Bush administration has been criticized by other nations for not participating in the 1997 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or the Kyoto Protocol. The protocol was signed by over 150 countries and called for reduction in emissions in absolute terms, but only by developing nations.
Partly in response, evangelical leaders such as the Rev. Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals and megachurch pastors Rick Warren and Bill Hybels have joined mainline church heads such as the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church in supporting the view that global warming is real and mainly human induced.
These leaders have called for the United States to set policies that would cut emissions, explaining that Creation Care, as they call it, is a biblical responsibility.
"This concern … comes straight from God and the Holy Spirit who is regenerating people's hearts to realize the imperative of the Scriptures to care for God's world in new ways," said Cizik in the recent film The Great Warming.
"Climate change is real and human induced. It calls for action soon. And we are saying action based upon a biblical view of the world as God's world," said Cizik. "And to deplete our resources, to harm our world by environmental degradation, is an offense against God. That's what the Scriptures say."
Some Christians, however, say believers should stay clear of the climate change debate given that there is "no consensus on this issue." Some also oppose laying most blame for global warming on humans and reject proposals to significantly cut carbon emission – the main contributor of greenhouse gases – which they say will have a devastating effect on the world's poor.
Furthermore, Christian leaders have been urged to resist from using the Bible carelessly to support their views.
"To tie the authority of the Bible to the shifting and revisable scientific and public policy proposals of one's global warming agenda is unhelpful to the debate at best and trivializing of Christian faith at worst," advised Dr. Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary during a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in June.
"The SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) and other like-minded evangelical groups are not opposed to environmental protection," explained Moore, who is the dean of SBTS's school of theology and senior vice president for academic administration. "We are, however, concerned about the ways in which religious arguments are used in this debate, possibly with harmful consequences both for public policy and for the mission of the church."
Moore affirmed that Southern Baptists do care about global warming "because the creation reveals the glory of God," but that science does not absolutely support humans being the main cause for global warming and that cutting carbon emissions will be in the best interest for the majority of the world's population.
During last Friday's conference, Bush said the goals and strategies will be set up by each nation and another meeting is slated for next summer to "finalize the goal" and set up a "strong and transparent system" to measure progress.
The president highlighted new technology, such as clean coal technology and biofuels, as potential tools to be harness in the battle to reduce greenhouse gases. Bush also advised more use of nuclear, wind and solar power.
"It was said that we faced a choice between protecting the environment and producing enough energy. Today we know better," the president said. "These challenges share a common solution: technology."
"We must lead the world to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions," Bush continued, "and we must do it in a way that does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity for their people."
According to Assistant Secretary of Energy Karen Harbert, America's greenhouse emissions dropped for the first time in Bush's presidency last year based on preliminary data for 2006.
Harbert in prepared remarks said preliminary data suggested an absolute reduction in energy-related carbon dioxide emission of 1.3 percent for 2006 despite economic growth of 2.9 percent.
The White House-sponsored climate change conference convened representatives of 16 nations, the United Nations and the European Union. Bush said he hopes his initiatives will help countries come together on global warming after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
"No one nation, no matter how much power or political will it possesses, can succeed alone," said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday on the first day of the conference. "We all need partners, and we all need to work in concert."
Christian Post reporter Michelle Vu contributed to this report.