from Embassy Magazine
By Fred Hiltz
Published Oct 31, 2011
As governments throughout the world prepare for the next global climate change summit, COP 17, later this month, Canadian faith leaders urge them to take collective action by signing and implementing a binding international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol that commits nations to slash carbon emissions.
The following is an excerpt of an open letter from 26 Canadian leaders of faith community and faith-based organizations, released earlier this week.
Signatories include representatives of the: Anglican Church of Canada (Most Rev. Fred Hiltz), Association of Progressive Muslims of Canada, Canadian Council of Imams, Quakers, Ethiopian Orthodox Church of Canada, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Federation of Hindu Temples of Canada, Mennonite Church Canada, Bahá'ís, Presbyterian Church in Canada, United Church of Canada, Citizens for Public Justice, Faith and the Common Good, and KAIROS.
We, representatives of Canadian faith communities, are united in our conviction that the growing crisis of climate change needs to be met by solutions that draw upon the moral and spiritual resources of the world’s religious traditions.
We recognize that at its root the unprecedented human contribution to climate change is symptomatic of a spiritual deficit: excessive self-interest, destructive competition, and greed have given rise to unsustainable patterns of production and consumption. Humanity’s relationship with the environment has become distorted by actions that compromise the welfare of future generations of life.
Our faith traditions and sacred texts call upon us all—individuals, civil society, businesses, industry, and governments—to consider the spiritual dimensions of the crisis of ocean and climate change; to take stock of our collective behaviour; to transform cultures of consumerism and waste into cultures of sustainability; and to respect the balance between economic activity and environmental stewardship.
The Nov. 29-Dec. 9 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 17) conference in South Africa has the potential to be a transition point—where we, as a global community, change how we think and act.
The challenge of climate justice
Climate change is a planetary crisis that knows no borders. Some countries are far more adversely affected by climate change than others. They are experiencing major changes in weather patterns. They know the impact of rising seas and erosion of lands, leading to drought or flooding. These countries are most often among the poorest and least equipped to respond.
Many countries are suffering from the long-term consequences of unrestrained carbon emissions that damage the atmosphere. We believe all nations need to adopt energy policies that result in actual emission reductions to a fair and safe global level. Organizations, businesses, and individuals have similar duties to reduce their emissions.
For high-income nations such as Canada, justice demands that our governments shoulder a greater share of the economic burden of adaptation and mitigation—first and foremost, because of access to greater means, but also because of an historic role in contributing to its causes. We have a moral imperative to act.
A call for leadership and action
We call for leadership to put the long-term interest of humanity and the planet ahead of short-term economic and national concerns.
The teachings of our faiths tell us that the best interests of one group or nation are served by pursuing the best interests of all people. There is one human family and one Earth that is our common homeland. Climate change is a global crisis and requires global solutions that put the well-being of all people first—especially the most vulnerable.
Furthermore, our environment is the natural source of our wealth and the home of millions of species for which we are planetary stewards. How long can we barter this priceless inheritance for the promise of growing economic returns?
In our neighbourhoods and communities, and in businesses and organizations, we need to change wasteful patterns of production and consumption. This calls for a cultural transformation that brings the values of sustainability to the forefront of public consciousness—and into more responsible practices. We cannot wait for others to act but instead must lead by example.
Religious organizations, public institutions and businesses all have important roles to play in promoting ethical consumption and more sustainable lifestyles and practices in their everyday operations.
We speak respectfully to our political leaders, who have been entrusted with authority by Canadians. We ask that you act with due regard for the values of both religion and science, looking objectively on the problems confronting our planet. Climate science points to a future of greater instability and unpredictability, problems that can be addressed by action today. We stand ready to work alongside you to promote a future of security, prosperity, and justice—for humankind, and the whole of creation.
As you carry out your responsibilities at COP 17, we urge you to honour the values we have described and adopt the following policy goals:
- in the spirit of global solidarity, take collective action by signing and implementing a binding international agreement replacing the Kyoto Protocol that commits nations to reduce carbon emissions and set fair and clear targets that ensure global average temperatures stay below a 2 C increase from pre-industrial levels;
- demonstrate national responsibility by committing to national carbon emission targets and a national renewable energy policy designed to achieve sustainability;
- implement climate justice, by playing a constructive role in the design of the Green Climate Fund under United Nations governance, and by contributing public funds to assist the poorest and most affected countries to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.
We believe these to be practical and critical measures necessary to secure the well-being of the planet for future generations of life.
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