“..carbon dioxide emissions and atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases remain very high. This is disturbing and a cause for real concern. Yet even more worrying is the continued search for new fossil fuel reserves, whereas the Paris Agreement clearly urged keeping most fossil fuels underground.”
–Pope Francis to oil executives, June 2018
The “continued search” for fossil fuels is part of a short-sighted model of development known as extractivism, or the exploitation on a massive scale of natural resources such as coal, oil, gas and all kinds of minerals, including those we depend on every day within our electronic devices.
We see the impacts of extractivism in the rising sea levels, extreme temperatures, drought and flooding, and ever stronger storms scientists attribute, at least in part, to climate change.
For a truly just response to the climate crisis, we must also consider:
- The devastation wrought on the environment and on local communities by the actual extraction, processing and transportation of the fossil fuels contributing to climate change
- The amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere from large-scale extractive industries
- The need to avoid the mistakes of the past by considering biodiversity, eco-systems and human rights when implementing renewable energy projects like solar and wind.
These understandings prompt us to recognize our complicity and to prayerfully consider how we might reduce our dependence on the extractivist and throwaway culture and shift our society away from this model.
The Inter-religious working group on Extractive Industries explores the impacts of this development model on their website: www.justresponse.faith. On this site you will find faith and educational resources about what extractive industries are, why this is a concern for people of faith, and how you can respond.