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Faith leaders back Paris climate deal

22 April 2016


Demanding change: the President of the UN General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft (centre) is presented with the interfaith declaration on climate change by Stephen Chiu of the Buddhist Tzu-Chi Foundation, on Monday at the Church Center for the UN in New York

Demanding change: the President of the UN General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft (centre) is presented with the interfaith declaration on climate change b...

RELIGIOUS leaders from around the world have signed an interfaith declaration calling for the immediate implementation of the agreement on climate change reached in Paris last December (News, 11 December 2015).

The declaration, given to the President of the UN General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft, during a multifaith ceremony in New York on Monday, was signed by 270 religious leaders from different faiths, including Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu; the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, on behalf of the Anglican Communion; five Roman Catholic cardinals; the Dalai Lama; and Chief Rabbi Sher Yashuv Cohen.

It urges governments to sign the Paris agreement, make a commitment to “fossil fuel divestment”, phase out fossil-fuel subsidies, and, by 2050, to make a transition to 100-per-cent renewable energy use.

It also encourages faith communities to reduce carbon emissions in their homes, workplaces, and places of worship.

The climate-change deal which was agreed in Paris will be open for signature from 22 April. It seeks to limit the increase of the global temperature to below 2°C, and foster climate resilience. It calls on countries to reach their greenhouse-gas emissions “peak” as soon as possible.

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, who leads the Church of England’s environmental campaigning and who signed the declaration on behalf of the C of E, said that the Paris agreement marked a significant step in the global fight against climate change, and that it was vital that definite steps were taken to follow it up.

He praised the part that religious leaders had played in leading the public debate: “Faith leaders were particularly important in creating the climate of public opinion which allowed such an agreement with carbon-cutting targets as ambitious as those agreed at Paris to be reached.

“With evidence building that the first three years of this month were the hottest on record, the science is clear that we need urgent action to curb emissions.”

The Bishop for Indigenous Peoples in the Anglican Church of Canada, the Rt Revd Mark MacDonald, said: “The communion of all things is what is at stake. Indigenous peoples are uniquely threatened by climate change, though the least responsible. The Paris agreement is a beginning; we are called to go further.”

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