Faith leaders united in Durban climate change action call

By agency reporter
3 Dec 2011

Faith leaders have called on decision-makers at the UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa, to act in the interest of humanity and reach an agreement on cutting global greenhouse gas emissions.

With negotiations on legally binding carbon emission cuts yet to make real progress and nations unable to agree on a financial package to help poor countries adapt to the effects of climate change faith leaders have demanded action.

Unveiling the Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change, peace activist Ela Gandhi quoted her grandfather, Mahatma, when she urged delegates to "be the change you want to see in the world."

She said those in power needed to make decisions which helped conserve the planet for future generations.

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Durban, added that the world's political leaders were in danger of failing humanity.

"We express our displeasure with local and international political leadership which has failed to take decisive steps to make the changes required for the survival of humanity and life on earth," he said.

"We as the religious community demand that our political leaders honour previous commitments and move towards ethically responsible positions and policies," said Cardinal Napier.

"There is strong evidence that such steps will not be made at COP 17," he added.

The Cardinal therefore urged the global spiritual community to do what their political leaders had failed to do and not accept platitudes instead of action on climate change.

Mardi Tindal, leader of the United Church of Canada, the country's largest Protestant denomination, said Jesus' call to love one's neighbour spoke directly to global decisions on the environment.

She said: "When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was he said love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and he added, love your neighbour as yourself."

"We can't be compassionate followers of Christ without being concerned by the threat of climate change and its impact on our global neighbours," Tindal added

Fellow Canadian the Rev Willard Metzger, the General Secretary of the Mennonite Church of Canada, added that environmental responsibility was an act of worship.

He said: "Caring for the earth is a form of worship to God the creator. God put passion and energy into creating something beautiful for his children.

"How can we do anything but treat it with respect. Anything else would be an insult.

"How would a parent feel if their child trashed a gift they had spent time and effort making."

The interfaith declaration calls on governments to act now before global warming does irreparable harm to the earth.

It states: 'We call upon our leaders, those of our faiths, and all people of Earth to accept the reality of the common danger we face, the imperative and responsibility for immediate and decisive action, and the opportunity to change.'

UK-based global development agency Christian Aid's climate talks expert Mohamed Adow said that if nothing is done human suffering on a huge scale would be the consequence.

"We want to leave Durban with a deal which is a strong response to the climate chaos which is hurtling towards us - and which is already having devastating effects on poor people," he explained.

"Governments need to agree how to respond to the latest climate science, which shows that without deep emissions cuts now, dangerous global warming will occur. It will cause human suffering on a terrifying scale," said Adow.

[Ekk/3]

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