Religious positions on climate change and climate policy in the United States

Arjan (J.A.) Wardekker, Arthur C. Petersen, Jeroen P. van der Sluijs


February 2006, a group of 86 evangelical leaders, under the auspices of the Evangelical Climate Initiative, challenged the Bush administration on global warming. Other religious groups and leaders in the USA, and other countries, have taken positions as well. As the US evangelical community seems to have a considerable influence on the views and policy of (Republican) national leaders, these developments are relevant for assessing US and international climate policy. Using argumentative discourse analysis, this paper analyzes the religious positions on climate change and climate policy in the United States, as evident in their communication in the media, opinion documents, and websites. Religious positions show a wide range of views, images, and discourses that deal with fundamental moral and ethical questions concerning climate change, stewardship and social justice. Our main conclusion is that both proponents and opponents of strict climate policy strongly value these concepts, but that they interpret them in different ways. A robust policy strategy (regarding support in the religious community) should pay careful attention to the effects of both climate change and climate policy on the poor in both developing nations and the USA itself.

Keywords: environmental justice, equity, ethics, religion and environment, climate policy, United States

Full Text:



Communicating Climate Change: Discourses, Mediations and Perceptions
ISBN: 978-989-95500-3-2

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Centro de Estudos de Comunicação e Sociedade (CECS)
Universidade do Minho