Preparations underway for interfaith climate summit in Sweden

By Ecumenical News International
June 7, 2008

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus and author Peter Matthiessen are among those who have said they will attend an interfaith climate summit being organized by the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden in Uppsala in November 2008.

The Uppsala gathering is to take place immediately before a United Nations climate change conference in Poland, and aims to deliver a strong ethical and religious message to the political leaders at the UN meeting.

"The future of our planet depends on its climate, and we all need to take responsibility for getting global warming under control," said archbishop of Sweden Anders Wejryd in a statement released at the end of May that announced the participation of Yunus and Matthiessen.

Yunus, from Bangladesh, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work in pioneering small microcredit loans to combat poverty. US author Peter Matthiessen, a Zen Buddhist, is known for his writing about oppressed peoples, and cultures that are being wiped out.

The 28–29 November interfaith climate summit will seek to influence government negotiations for a global agreement to fight climate change after 2012, the target date for some nations to reduce climate-change inducing emissions under the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol.

Following the UN meeting in Poland, negotiators hope a further UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009 will adopt the global pact.

Archbishop Wejryd has invited about 30 opinion formers from different faith traditions to the Uppsala gathering. In Uppsala Cathedral, participants will sign a manifesto to be presented to the UN meeting in Poland, and the Copenhagen meeting in 2009.

Those due to attend the interfaith summit include Lutheran Bishop Sofie Petersen from Greenland, Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, leader of the Reformed Jewish congregation in the Hague, and the Anglican bishop of London, Richard Chartres.

"A faith-based approach is about seeing life as a gift. It's about human rights, peace, greater justice, sustainable development and the view of humanity," said Wejryd. "We can't continue on the same path where our world is concerned, and there's still time to turn things around. But that time is running out."

:: Information in English about the Interfaith Climate Summit is available here (*PDF Adobe Acrobat format):

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]

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