Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-544b6db54f-bkjnw Total loading time: 0.779 Render date: 2021-10-25T05:12:49.049Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

5 - Public Theology – ‘Grounded’: An Energy Policy Rooted in Human Flourishing

from Part I - Multidisciplinary Perspectives

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2019

Marc Ozawa
Energy Policy Research Group, University of Cambridge
Jonathan Chaplin
University of Cambridge
Michael Pollitt
Judge Business School, Cambridge
David Reiner
Judge Business School, Cambridge
Paul Warde
University of Cambridge
Get access


This chapter sets out the contribution to ‘good energy policy’ that might be forthcoming from the (perhaps unfamiliar) field of ‘public theology’. It argues that an environmental public theology would commend a ‘grounded’ energy policy – one rooted in an explicit conception of a ‘good’ or ‘virtuous’ human life. After defining ‘public theology’, it identifies five convergent stances relevant to energy policy that seem to be emerging today among representative of most world religions: (i) nature as a ‘divine’ ordering marked by integration, equilibrium and harmony rather than as infinitely exploitable; (ii) a call for human ‘stewardship’ of nature; (iii) an acceptance of climate science and an urgent call to shift away from fossil fuels; (iv) scepticism towards unlimited economic growth and its attendant ‘consumerism’; (v) locating energy questions within a broader commitment to a just social order characterised by both an equitable global distribution of access to energy and a decentralisation of energy supply (‘environmental subsidiarity’).

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Bell, Colin, Chaplin, Jonathan and White, Robert (eds.) (2013) Living Lightly, Living Faithfully: Religions and the Future of Sustainability. Cambridge: Faraday Institute/KLICE.Google Scholar
Billingham, Paul and Chaplin, Jonathan (forthcoming 2019) ‘Law, Religion and Public Reasoning’. In Handbook of the Interdisciplinary Study of Law and Religion, edited by Doe, Norman, Sandberg, Russell, Kane, Bronach and Roberts, Caroline. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
Bührs, Ton (2009) Environmental Integration: Our Common Challenge. New York: SUNY.Google Scholar
Chaplin, Jonathan (2015) ‘Laudato Si’: Structural Causes of the Ecological Crisis’, Comment (24 September and 1 October).
Chaplin, Jonathan (2016) ‘The Global Greening of Religion’, Palgrave Communications Comment 2 art. no 19047 (July 2016), doi:10.1057/palcomms.2016.47.Google Scholar
Charlesworth, Mark (2015) Transdisciplinary Solutions for Sustainable Development: From planetary management to stewardship. Abingdon, Oxon: Earthscan/Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Clingerman, Forrest and O’Brian, Kevin J. (2017), ‘Is climate change a new kind of problem? The role of theology and imagination in climate ethics’. Wiley’s Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 8 (September/October), 110, accessed 6 December 2017. (WIREs Clim Change 2017, 8:e480. doi:10.1002/wcc.480)Google Scholar
Alliance, Cornwall (2009) An Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming,, accessed 15 April 2016.
Evangelical Environmental Network (2006) Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation,, accessed 15 April 2016.
Gottlieb, Richard S. (ed.) (2006) Oxford Handbook on Religion and Ecology. Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Graham, Elaine (2013) Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Public Theology in a Post-Secular Age. London: SCM.Google Scholar
Halpert, J. (2012) ‘Judaism and Climate Change’. Yale Climate Connections 29 February 2012,, accessed 15 April 2016.
Hancock, Rosemary (2015) ‘“Islamic” Environmentalism in Great Britain’, in Peace, Timothy (ed.), Muslims and Political Participation in Britain. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 103123.Google Scholar
Hancock, Rosemary (2018) Islamic Environmentalism: Activism in the United States and Great Britain. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
IICCS (Islamic International Climate Change Symposium) (2015) Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change,, accessed 15 April 2016.
McKibben, Bill (2010) Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough Planet. New York: St Martin’s Griffin.Google Scholar
McKibben, Bill (2012) ‘Preface – the challenge of sustainability’. In Bell, Colin, Chaplin, Jonathan and White, Robert, eds (2013) Living Lightly, Living Faithfully: religions and the future of sustainability. Cambridge: Faraday Institute/KLICE: 2129.Google Scholar
Nagle, John Copeland (2010) Law’s Environment: How the law shapes the places we live. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Northcott, Michael (2013) A Political Theology of Climate Change. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.Google Scholar
Oelschlaeger, M. (1994) Caring for Creation: An Ecumenical Approach to the Environmental Crisis. New Haven: Yale.Google Scholar
Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies/Bhumi Project (2015) Bhumi Devi Ki Jai! A Hindu Declaration on Climate Change,, accessed 15 April 2016.
Pollitt, Michael (2010) ‘Green Values in Communities: how and why to engage individuals with decarbonisation targets’. Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge Working Paper No. 398.
Sagoff, Mark (2008) The Economy of the Earth: Philosophy, Law, and the Environment 2nd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
St. John’s College, Cambridge (2014) ‘Partha Dasgupta leads appeal to religion for “mass mobilisation” on environmental change’,, accessed 18 April 2016.
Weatherley-Singh, Janice, Branco, Tiago and Felgueiras, (2016) ‘The greening of the EU? A Christian assessment of the EU’s environmental policies for biodiversity and nature’, in Chaplin, Jonathan and Wilton, Gary (eds), God and the EU: Faith in the European Project (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 230250.Google Scholar
White, Lynn (1967) ‘The historical roots of our ecologic crisis’, Science 155 (3767): 12031207.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Williams, Rowan (2012) Faith in the Public Square. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats