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General Conference 2012: Resolution

Caring for God's Creation

By United Methodist Women

God has given humankind responsibility for the care and keeping of the earth as God’s steward. (Genesis 2:15) The Bible’s message, however, goes beyond just managing natural resources wisely. It calls us to live justly and compassionately with our brothers and sisters, to work for justice and peace by restoring right relations with the land and, in fact, with all of nonhuman Creation, and to liberate the poor and suffering. (Mark 16:15, John 3:17, Romans 8:18-21).

We live in a time in which climate change is causing grave human suffering in many parts of the world, including but not limited to deaths due to extreme weather events, greater food and water insecurity, displacement of peoples, the extinction of plant and animal life and certain traditional cultures, and the threat of ecological catastrophe and major human rights crises. Indeed, studies indicate 300,000 people a year are already dying due to the effects of global warming, and almost all affected are “the least among us” who have done almost nothing to contribute to the problem. [1]

In light of the biblical mandate and our Social Principles, The United Methodist Church, as people of faith, commits to fulfill the divine mandate and meet human need by responsible care of creation through support of the following policies and actions:

General Policy Recommendations

LEADERS, CHURCHES, ORGANIZATIONS, VARIOUS BOARDS AND AGENCIES, as appropriate, will advocate and act on the following policies designed to bring about the equitable and sustainable transformation of national and international economies:

  • Codify reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are sufficient to reduce atmospheric levels of GHG to below 350 parts per million (ppm). This is the latest scientific evidence as to what is needed to prevent dangerous or irreversible climate change effects. [2]
  • Promote international dialogue and the development of appropriate human rights frameworks and procedures for addressing the human rights challenges that are expected to emerge as climate change permanently displaces large numbers of people and, indeed, entire nations.
  • Promote and support the human right of indigenous peoples to determine the best use of their land and energy resources.
  • Promote just, sustainable economic development that addresses energy poverty in ways that strengthen community involvement and control thus enabling equal access to energy and natural resources.
  • Promote strategies to maximize the economic opportunities for low-income consumers, workers and communities as nations shift toward green energy economies and encourage greater conservation.
  • Advocate that wealthy nations provide substantial funding, over and beyond existing foreign aid commitments, for those nations that are most affected by climate change. Advocate also for transition assistance for vulnerable communities in wealthy nations.
  • Advocate that in all cases, national and international planning and implementation mechanisms should be transparent, democratic, participatory, inclusive, equitable, effective and accountable to those most affected by climate change, such as women, indigenous peoples and other marginalized communities.
  • Advocate that the United States become a full party to a strong, binding international climate change agreement under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) so that the United States is globally accountable for the reduction of its own greenhouse gas emissions and addresses the need for climate adaptation.
  • In the United States, support the Environmental Protection Agency’s continued ability to implement and enforce the Clean Air Act to the full extent of its authority as a complement to congressional action on climate change.


The Creation Care/Climate Change Task Force established by the 2008 General Conference is to be commended for its work and will continue in the next quadrennium. The task force is urged to expand its membership to include representatives from all United Methodist boards, agencies and other appropriate United Methodist bodies and assist with the following:

  • Serve as a communications and planning hub for cross-board and agency efforts to reduce the Church’s carbon footprint.
  • Produce a report for the 2016 General Conference to what extent specific boards and agencies have reduced their carbon footprint.
  • More effectively and aggressively develop and implement church policies, educational materials and advocacy strategies promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy conservation and corporate responsibility, including purchasing and investing practices that encourage the same.

1. John Vidal, “Global Warming Causes 300,000 Deaths a Year, says Kofi Anan Thinktank,” The Guardian, May 29, 2009, available: www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/may/29/1.

2. This position is supported by the World Council of Churches (Executive Committee minutes dated February 23–26, 2010, on the UNFCCC-COP 15 meeting in Copenhagen); by Church World Service (2009 and reaffirmed 2010); by various national governments; by scientists such as NASA’s Dr. James Hansen, in James Hansen et al., “Target Atmosphere CO?: Where Should Humanity Aim?” The Open Atmospheric Science Journal 2 (2008): 217–231; by the Committee on Stabilization Targets for Atmospheric Greenhouse Gas Concentration in its Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millennia (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2010); and by by Johan Rocstrom et al., “Planetary Boundaries: Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity,” Ecology & Society 14, no. 2 (2009); and by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (position statement 2009).

Last Updated: 04/11/2014

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