As a result of the experience of real people in real places, new scientific studies and the collection of hard data during 2018, we now know more than we have ever known before about the state of Earth’s climate and we know it with greater certainty.
Human experience and scientific evidence reinforce the conviction of the Parliament of the World’s Religions that the reality and basic causes of climate change are settled science. We are also convinced that the evidence for the danger posed by human-caused climate change is irrefutable.
This is the world humans have chosen with their decisions and their behavior. Unless we choose differently and behave more wisely, the world will not change for the better. For all persons of good faith, 2019 must be a year of action to reduce human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare for and address the inescapable consequences of the changes we have already imposed upon the planet.
2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 have been the hottest five year period in recorded human history. The impacts of rising temperatures on our planet and our way of life are drastic, evident, and indisputable. The ten warmest years ever recorded by modern record-keeping have occurred since 2005.
The record heat means that every year since 1997 has been warmer than “average” in the United States. In 2017 and 2018, every state had a warmer-than-average year, and 35 recorded one of their 10 hottest years on record, according to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Our decisions and actions in 2019 will shape the conditions for existence, including for humans, on our planet for the foreseeable future.
Climate Change affects all of us. Even more daunting is the fact that climate change will affect every human born in the 21st century and beyond. Our decisions and action in 2019 will shape the conditions for existence, including for humans, on our planet for the foreseeable future.
Organized religions and faith-based communities across the world have come to similar and supportive conclusions, and our ability to affect the future of our Planet is Immense. In his address to the Parliament’s Global Convening in Toronto, Iyad Abu Moghli, head of the Faith for Earth Initiative of UN Environment, detailed the immense potential of organized religions to change the world by changing our behavior.
In the communication from the Convening to the nations gathered for the 24th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, the consensual position of more than 8,000 representatives was summarized:
The urgency of the need to mitigate climate change led preeminent representatives of numerous religious traditions and indigenous peoples, as well as leaders from the scientific community and civil society, gathered in solidarity at the Parliament of the World’s Religions November 4, 2018 Climate Assembly, to resolutely appeal to all of humanity to take bold and decisive action to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Over 8,200 people attended the Toronto Parliament.
In a spirit of harmony, we join in calling for Climate Action; individuals, organizations, businesses, and institutions at all levels of organization must actively accept responsibility for the impacts of climate change on life on Planet Earth. Those with the greatest opportunity to reduce emissions and counter adverse consequences have the greatest responsibility to act aggressively and decisively.
While the actions of individuals continue to impact the climate of the Earth, it is now clearer than ever that it is our collective behavior which must change. No national government has yet done enough to reduce cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases. Taken together, the commitments of the governments of the world still fall short of changing the trajectory of our planet toward widespread disaster and extensive human misery.
The engagement of the spiritual communities of the world is critical to every aspect of that challenge. We will not do what is in our hearts if we do not listen to what is in our hearts. And if we see no meaning and value in the world beyond what our science and our economics can reveal, we will lack the motivation to make the tough choices we must make and accept responsibility for our actions.
The wisdom on which we must draw as we choose our futures will come from diverse traditions and insights catalyzed by common purpose – the Wellbeing of humans, our societies, and the Earth’s natural systems. As diverse as our cultures and traditions may be, it is even more certain that we will share the future. Faith communities can help us recognize our interdependence, see beyond our science and knowledge to perceive meaning and wisdom, and encourage mutually reinforcing action. And there is a fearsome urgency to this challenge.
Our actions each day write the future across the face of this planet. Just as we have chosen the world in which we live today, we can choose a better world for our future. The religions, the faith traditions, and our individual spiritual experience are necessary to making those choices wisely.
The Parliament is not a scientific organization. We make no claim to independent findings or insights with regard to the physical state of our planet, the causes of climate change, or its impacts on humans and their environments. We do assert, however, the universal responsibility for each person to be accountable for our actions.
The Parliament of the World’s Religions, acting with the leadership of its Climate Action Task Force, seeks to encourage and enable collective and individual action to reduce and counter the adverse impacts of human-caused climate change. The Task Force bases its mandate in the Interfaith Call to Action of November 2016, and the unanimous adoption of The Fifth Directive to the Parliament’s Global Ethic.
We continue to welcome endorsement of those statements.
In 2019, the work of the Task Force will include:
- Emphasizing the importance of Global Interfaith Harmony in encouraging and supporting climate action by individuals and communities, governments at all levels, religious congregations, and for-profit and not-for-profit entities to reduce and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by reforming patterns of production and consumption, decreasing reliance on fossil fuels, promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency, and promoting the sustainability of natural systems.
- Advocating aggressive action by National Governments, International Agencies and Financial Institutions, and Corporations and business entities in implementing and supporting the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
- Promoting and supporting the transition to clean, safe and affordable renewable energy in all countries, and the realization of a post-carbon global economy with fair and affordable access to energy for all.
- Enabling cooperation in adopting, fulfilling and measuring the impact of organizational and individual commitments to change with the completion of Phase 1 of our Climate Commitments Project. In March we will launch a web hub, which will include a system map of global climate commitments, a virtual forum for resource sharing, a set of metrics for assessing impact, and inspiration from the festivals, sacred texts, teachings, and holidays of our faith traditions. The web hub will demonstrate the range of actions underway and make it possible for change-makers around the world to cooperate in a way never before possible.
- Building on the consensus and partnerships which emerged from The Parliament’s Global Convening in Toronto, Canada, in November, 2018.
We invite all who share our concerns and values to join with us in these endeavors.
Climate Action Task Force of the Parliament of the World’s Religions
David Hales, Chair
Commit Yourself. Commit Your Community.
Commit Your Leaders, and Your Media.
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