Climate change performance and religious beliefs

Climate change performance and religious beliefs

Nothing suggests that religiosity is a brake on the ongoing climate destruction caused by humans – simply because 84% of the global population is considered more or less religious. The following looks at the possible correlation between Climate Contribution (climate debt) and the world religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism – and Other Religions and the Residual Group (including non-religious). All figures must be interpreted with great caution due to uncertainties and dilemmas in the compilation methods.

The table below shows religious beliefs as a percentage of the population into 4 groups of countries: 1) The 20 countries with the largest Climate Contribution (climate debt) per capita, 2) The 20 countries with the smallest Climate Contribution per capita (Contribution Free countries are not included), 3) The 20 Contribution Free countries with the largest GDP(ppp-$) per capita + the 20 Contribution Free countries with the lowest GDP(ppp $) per capita, and 4) All 80 countries included. Note that small and large countries count the same in the compilation. See the full country ranking of Climate Contributions per capita ‘here‘.

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Climate Contributions Other Residual
& religious beliefs Christian Muslim Hindu Buddhist Religions¹ Group²
.
Contribution 1-20 45% 23% 4% 6% 6% 17%
Contribution 61-80 52% 38% 0% 0% 1% 9%
Contrib. Free 20+20 57% 25% 5% 5% 4% 4%
All 80 countries 52% 27% 3% 5% 3% 11%

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The trends in the table seem too uncertain to draw safe conclusions. The percentage of Christians tends to decrease along with increasing climate debt – opposite the Residual Group (with a large share of non-religious). But is this coincidence? The study below of selected countries might provide some answers.

33% of the people on Earth are Christians (Roman Catholic 17%, Protestant 6%, Orthodox 4% and Anglican 1%). Rank 4-10 of the worst performing countries in Climate Positions 2010 have large Christian percentages: Trinidad and Tobacco (66%), Australia (67%), United States (78%), Canada (69%), Netherlands (51%) and Belgium (64%). The last 5 are considered Full Democracies. 11 out of the 20 worst climate performing countries have Christian majorities and together the 11 countries accounts for 53% of the climate debt worldwide (in ClimatePositions 2010). Conversely, the 7 richest Contribution Free countries have large Christian percentages: Lithuania (90%), Gabon (77%), Romania (100%), Costa Rica (91%), Macedonia (59%), Colombia 93%) and Peru (93%). These examples suggest that Christianity is unprepared for the global damages caused by fossil burning.

23% of the people on Earth are Muslims. The 3 authoritarian regimes Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates are 68%, 74% and 77% Muslims and they were 1st, 2nd, and 4th worst performing countries among 145 in Climate Positions 2010. How 30-50 tons of emitted CO2 per capita annually are compatible with Islam requires lots of explaining. The authoritarian regimes Oman and Saudi Arabia with 86% and 93% Muslims were 11th and 12th on the list. Azerbaijan, Albania and Morocco with 80%, 97% and 100% Muslims were Contribution Free in 2010 (many poorer Muslim countries could be added). These examples suggest that Islam is unprepared for the global damages caused by fossil burning.

14% of the people on Earth are Hindus. Only 2 out of the 80 included countries have majorities of Hindus and they are both Contribution Free: Nepal (81%) and India (80%). 2 of the 4 worst performing countries have relatively large percentages of Hindus: Qatar (14%) and Trinidad and Tobacco (23%). Conclusions seem very weak.

7% of the people on Earth are Buddhists. Only 3 out of the 80 included countries have majorities of Buddhists and they are all Contribution Free: Bhutan (75%), Sri Lanka (69%) and Mongolia (55%). 3 of the 20 worst performing countries have relatively large percentages of Buddhists: Singapore (34%), South Korea (23%) and Japan (36%). Conclusions seem very weak.

12% of the people on Earth are considered non-religious. The non-religious category is the large majority of Other Residual in the table above. However, many people belong to a religious group in one study and considered non-religious in another. A different (conflicting) ‘survey’ thus reveal that 13 out of the 20 worst climate performing countries are on a list of the 50 countries with the highest percentage of non-religious (or atheists): Norway (31-72%), Japan (64-65%), Finland (28-60%), South Korea (30-52%), Netherlands (39-44%), Belgium (42-43%), Israel (15-37%), Canada (19-30%), Austria (18-26%), Australia (24-25%), New Zealand (20-22%), Singapore (13) and United States (3-9%). Whether the over-representation of non-religious in the worst climate performing countries is due to human decay or sense of responsibility is an open question.

 

¹ Other Religions include Folk Religion, Jewish, Sikh, Baha’i, etc.

² The Residual Group include terms as unaffiliated, none-religious and atheists.

Source on world religions: ‘Wikipedia‘ (and ‘here‘).
Info on the 50 countries with the highest percentage of atheists ‘here‘.
Drawing by Claus Andersen, 2014.

 

 

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