Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Climate Change Requires Global Solutions, Say Faith Leaders

TORONTO, November 22, 2011 - United Church of Canada

Later this month, Mardi Tindal, the Moderator of The United Church of Canada, will join faith leaders from around the world as they gather to bear witness at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa.

Tindal will be attending the conference as part of a World Council of Churches delegation. She and the Rev. Willard Metzger, General Secretary of the Mennonite Church Canada , will be representing a diverse group of Canadian faith leaders from many different religious traditions and faith-based organizations. The message they will carry with them to Durban is an interfaith call of solidarity for leadership and action on climate change.

“Climate change is a planetary crisis that knows no borders,” says Tindal. “There is one human family and one Earth that is our common homeland.”

Tindal explains that 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. Climate change is a global crisis and requires global solutions that put the well-being of all people first—especially the most vulnerable.

“The world’s religious traditions teach us to look beyond ourselves—individually and collectively—now and for future generations, as we confront the crisis of ocean and climate change,” comments Tindal.

She says 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.

She adds that the Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change [PDF: 6 pp/102 KB] argues that the foundations for a sustainable economy must include the values of restraint, cooperation, and reciprocity.

“As religious leaders, we see people as more than consumers with unlimited appetites,” says Tindal. “We believe we must work together in transforming cultures of self-interest and unprecedented consumption into cultures of justice for all.”

Tindal believes the November 28–December 9, 2011, 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in South Africa has the potential to be a transition point where we, as a global community, change how we think about and act to address climate change.

“Our environment is the natural source of our wealth and the home of millions of species for which we are planetary stewards,” says Tindal. “How long can we barter this priceless inheritance for the promise of growing economic returns?”

Tindal explains that Canadian faith leaders are calling for leadership to put the long-term interest of humanity and the planet ahead of short-term economic and national concerns.

She says some countries are far more adversely affected by climate change than others as they experience 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.

Tindal says it is time for all of humanity to take stock of our collective behaviour and to transform cultures of consumerism and waste into cultures of sustainability.

“Our everyday choices about food, transportation, clothing, and entertainment are all practical expressions of what we value,” says Tindal.
At the same time, disconnections between our professed beliefs and our daily actions indicate our need for personal and collective awareness and transformation.

Tindal explains we need to seek coherence between our beliefs and our actions, so that our lives and consumption habits reflect our relationship with the rest of humanity and Earth itself.

“Humanity’s relationship with the environment has become distorted by actions that compromise the welfare of future generations of life,” she says. “We have a moral imperative to act.”