WMECWJS? (What mandatory emissions caps would Jesus support?)
Yesterday, I spoke with Reverend Jim Ball, who is president and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Movement and a senior advisor to the Evagelical Climate Initiative. Rev. Ball was a panelist here at CGI, and he’s a major player in the “creation care” movement, an initiative by some evangelical Christians to influence the climate-change debate: ...
Yesterday, I spoke with Reverend Jim Ball, who is president and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Movement and a senior advisor to the Evagelical Climate Initiative. Rev. Ball was a panelist here at CGI, and he's a major player in the "creation care" movement, an initiative by some evangelical Christians to influence the climate-change debate:
Yesterday, I spoke with Reverend Jim Ball, who is president and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Movement and a senior advisor to the Evagelical Climate Initiative. Rev. Ball was a panelist here at CGI, and he’s a major player in the “creation care” movement, an initiative by some evangelical Christians to influence the climate-change debate:
FP: Where does the evangelical community fit into the U.S. political landscape?
Rev. Jim Ball: Depending on how you define “evangelical,” we represent about 25 percent of the population. So, a significant amount. And obviously a good number of us vote and so political leaders tend to take what we do a little seriously. We think we can make an important contribution in terms of getting those who may not listen to other voices. They may not listen to environmentalists or they may not listen to former Vice President Al Gore, but maybe they’ll listen to us and give this issue a hearing. We’ve got Republican governors really taking a lead now. We have Governor Crist [of Florida] and Governor Schwarzenegger [of California]; we have Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who is an evangelical Christian himself, taking bold leadership steps. Governor Pawlenty is now the chair of the National Governor’s Association and he has made energy and climate his issue.
FP: What about President Bush? Have you gotten an audience with him?
JB: Well, no, not literally. He is aware of our work and his senior advisors who deal with the religious community are obviously knowledgeable about what we’re doing. But if the president is not ready to take significant action, we’re not waiting for him. We’re going to continue to move forward. I think the president’s getting together of leaders of the 16 large emitters is a positive step. But if all that they agree to do is voluntary measures, we’ve been doing that for 17 years. We’ve tried voluntary and it hasn’t worked. We need a mandatory approach so that all business decisions that have anything to do with global warming, they understand that there is a bit of a cost there. We believe in the markets. We believe that once you get the price right, that the price really reflects the true cost of what you are doing. The free markets are going to solve this problem, I am totally and utterly confident.
FP: So you think it is doable, that climate change can be stopped?
JB: We say we are going to help solve global warming, with the Lord’s help. It is a huge task to solve global warming and there are going to be serious ramifications throughout this century. But there are so many positive benefits to addressing this issue: reducing pollution that harm’s human health; reducing mercury pollution that impacts the unborn; making our industries more energy efficient; creating the technologies that we can sell to others. There is no way that energy is not going to be a growth industry in this century. Why shouldn’t we be the ones selling the technologies to everybody to else? As a Christian, I shouldn’t be so biased about who sells it. But United States needs to get in this game, because once we really start to lead, then the world is really going to get seriously engaged and involved in this issue.
FP: The Bali conference in December is shaping up to be a huge deal, and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has made it a top priority. What is your organization looking for from President Bush in Bali?
JB: Ideally, we would love for him to go there and say, “We are ready to make a commitment on a mandatory approach.” I don’t think that is very likely. But if we can’t have that, if what they are doing now with the 16 other nations can be a positive compliment to what they are doing in Bali, then that would be helpful.
Blake Hounshell is a former managing editor of Foreign Policy.
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