Human rights, the economy, food, water, migration, security; all of these issues are inextricably linked to climate change.
Without urgent action to tackle rising emissions and resulting climate impacts, we cannot expect positive progress on any of the other big and urgent issues facing communities, particularly those in the poorest and most vulnerable part of the world.
Acknowledging the multi-facetted threat of global warming religious leaders from across faiths are coming together to call for urgent government action to tackle rising emissions and ensure climate justice across the globe.
At a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland last week, the World Council of Churches announced an interfaith summit, to be held immediately ahead of the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in News (21-22 September).
Hosted by the World Council of Churches, together with Religions for Peace, the summit will bring together more than 30 religious leaders and groups from across the world.
It aims to galvanise and catalyse climate change and bring bold announcements at the Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit, as well as meaningful action beyond at the UN climate summits in Lima and Paris.
Kristen Auken, an advocacy advisor at DanChurchAid said:
Political leaders need to act to close the gap between what is needed and the lack of action on a political level. We, as church-related and faith-based groups, have an important role to play in pushing our leaders to be brave.
The groups – including those from the Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist faiths as well as Indigenous Peoples groups and others – will come together in one united voice and call on governments to tackle human rights and climate change systematically.
Dr Guillermo Kerber, co-ordinator of the WWC programme on Care for Creation and Climate Justice said:
The relevance is unprecedented because of the crucial moment we are living today.
The Geneva meeting also saw World Council of Churches re-affirmed its own commitment to climate justice.
At the meeting of the organisation’s Central Committee, organisations shared stories and perspectives on climate change’s impact of justice issues around the world, including conflict, security and human rights.
For example, Daniel Murphy from the Environmental Justice Foundation talked of the increasing number of climate-induced displacements around the world, and the impact climate change was having on existing security issues and conflicts.
He gave the example of Syria, a country still in the grips of a civil war, where the 2006-2010 drought drove mass migration into the cities, and putting social and economic pressures of the country and its citizens, and fuelling political instability.
He warned that climate impacts are disproportionately felt across the world.
“It is the least developed countries in the global South that are the first and worst affected,” he said. “Within any and all countries, it is the existing marginalised and poverty stricken communities whose rights are most threatened by climate change, in a host of different ways.”