CHRISTIAN ECOLOGY LINK
FAITH AND POWER
THE CASE FOR A LOW CONSUMPTION,
NON-NUCLEAR, ENERGY STRATEGY
This paper responds to an invitation from Government for greater dialogue with representatives of faith communities in order to improve public policy. We have sought an energy strategy that reflects love of the Creator, expresses care for the whole creation, and is informed by Christian principles of wise stewardship, peacemaking, justice, loving our neighbours and moderation in consumption.
Climate change and the impending closure of ageing nuclear reactors have raised the prospect of a new nuclear reactor construction programme. Links between nuclear power and nuclear weapons, concerns relating to nuclear waste and radioactive emissions, excessive costs, and the implications for economic direction and political structures lead us to conclude that the nuclear programme should not be revived at the present time.
We propose instead a low consumption, non-nuclear, energy strategy. This would require much greater attention to promoting energy efficiency and restraining consumer demand, a bold switch from using fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy and the phasing out of nuclear reactors in electricity generation.
Our reasoning is rooted in Christian ethics and motivated by a determination to reduce the nation's environmental impact, particularly the effects on global climate of excessive fossil fuel use. Christians will disagree on the detail of public policy, but we believe that such a strategy is the most appropriate in order to take proper care of God's creation.
The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution concluded that nuclear power is not indispensable in order to meet a climate change target of reducing CO 2 emissions by 60%, although a 47% reduction in energy consumption would be needed. Research and experience has demonstrated that such a reduction is feasible.
A key determinant of a nation's energy requirement is the nature and direction of its economy. Faster progress is needed towards sustainable development, requiring changes to Britain 's economic, social and political systems that will have profound implications for lifestyle patterns and technological choices. An energy strategy based on efficiency, conservation and restraint, with decentralised supply and increased use of renewable sources, would be relatively labour intensive and improve the health of the economy.
The high consumption, nuclear path may appear easier for government to pursue in the short term, but we believe that there is a moral duty to follow a more challenging and more sustainable option.
We conclude that substantially enhanced Government support for efficient, less profligate energy consumption and investment in renewable sources of energy supply rather than nuclear power is a moral imperative.
The full report is available on request for £2-00 in hard copy from CEL, 3 Bond Street, Lancaster, LA1 3ER, UK.
tel: +44 (0)1524 36241 and is also available free online at our website: www.christian-ecology.org.uk
(3) The report was written on behalf of Christian Ecology Link by Dr Tim Cooper, Head of the Centre for Sustainable Consumption, Sheffield Hallam University .