Joining the dots… The Economy and the Climate Crisis

Katherine Hogg writes about the connections between the economy and the climate crisis and introduces a new resource from Green Christian’s Joy in Enough programme.

This autumn, ahead of COP26 and in tow with ECCR’s Green your Money campaign, I’m looking at my money. The Green your Money campaign is helping me to understand the importance of the choices I make about my own money and how to take action to ensure I’m not harming the planet. I’ve been thinking about money more than usual during the pandemic, not because I didn’t have enough of it, thankfully, but because I was writing a church discussion resource about it for Green Christian.

Behind the figures I see when I look at my bank account sit other worlds….those of the workings of a bank and the wider economy and all the issues entailed therein which have a lot to do with the current climate emergency we are facing. Have you heard this before? Well, I’m glad if so, as this doesn’t get talked about a whole lot…because if it were better known and understood, we might live more sustainably!  

With ECCR you have likely started to think more about money and understand how important it is to do so. Green Christian’s new resource Plenty! guides you to turn your thoughts beyond your own finances to our collective finances. Often this can seem so overwhelming that we don’t know how to engage. This course is a six-week small group discussion resource which breaks down the issues into accessible topics and helps you to see what Christians can do about it. It can take place in person or on Zoom. The titles of the sessions are:

  • The stage is set – Plenty! yet inequality.
  • Just can’t get enough – consumerism and advertising
  • Growing pains – growth and debt
  • God is in business – economic justice
  • Running out of planet – climate emergency
  • Joy in enough – sustainability and wellbeing.

I began writing Plenty! in spring 2020 just as the pandemic was setting in. The first session looks at perceived scarcity of resources and greed for profit and how this has led to deep inequalities in UK, the most extreme in northern Europe.

Maybe you wonder why we focus on inequality at all in a resource looking into the climate crisis, but all the big issues of our time are connected. Faced with the climate crisis, we cannot ignore social and economic aspects and as Christians have a responsibility to understand the world in which we live. 

I’ve been struck afresh by just how radical Jesus’ teachings are and what he asks of us in terms of our response to inequalities and injustice. In Luke 6, he called his disciples to lend freely even to their enemies and to expect no return. What would that mean for us today if we were to really take that on board and live like this… if we have money to lend?

Where we put our money matters and Jesus knew that. He said: ‘where your treasure is, there is your heart also.’ He invites us to risk living like the lilies of the field. It’s radical, immensely challenging stuff and this has spoken to me as I’ve written the Plenty! Bible reflections ahead of each session. For another person living hand to mouth, the message may be saying something different. Jesus is always challenging people’s assumptions and talks a lot about money. He suggests we might be closer or further away from him than we might think.

I’ve started thinking in new ways about value too. What is of value? This is explored in the final session of Plenty! where we look at what it means to have ‘Joy in Enough.’

GDP is the measure of the growth of the economy yet is that really all that is of value as the advertisements shout out to us, seducing us and appealing to our wants and desires? We’ve realised in the pandemic, the value of our relationships, our communities, the value of human contact. Society and the economy can be structured differently to value these aspects and to keep economic growth within planetary boundaries. This is our only home on planet earth, a gift from God and we are an integral part of creation, not somehow separate from it. The created systems can reveal God’s values if they are structured differently, and Christians can bring about change once we know how to and why it matters.

Each session of Plenty! begins with a short video and is followed by questions for discussion. It has been developed as part of the Joy in Enough programme from Green Christian. This is a Christian initiative which works through churches to advocate for a fair and green economy.  You can read more and download the resources at www.joyinenough.org/Plenty 

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