Climate change is one of the defining challenges of the modern world, and it has become a major moral imperative for the world’s religious communities. If we stay on current trends, the results will be disastrous, even catastrophic, for human wellbeing and flourishing. We would expect to witness more severe droughts, flooding, forest fires, heat waves, and storms. Climate change will also have a magnifier effect on other grave threats such as poverty, social exclusion, refugee flows, political instability, and war.
Against this backdrop, Religions for Peace is faced with a clear moral imperative to respond. For the world’s major religions, care for the earth is a religious obligation. Working with top climate scientists and development experts, Religions for Peace has developed and deployed climate sensitive advocacy and action training materials across its global networks as well as implemented multi religious initiatives.
In partnership with other concerned entities—especially the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Vatican— Religions for Peace has taken the following steps:
Developed a global multi-religious “Faiths for Earth” campaign in support of Paris Agreement on climate change. Led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, this campaign urged all religious believers to call upon political leaders to commit to a hundred percent renewable energy by 2050. The petition garnered over 337,000 signatures within a span of few months. Alongside other faith-based campaigns, Religions for Peace presented the campaign petitions to President Hollande in Paris during the climate negotiations. In the context of this campaign, Religions for Peace placed op-eds by religious leaders on the moral imperative to fight climate change in leading publications.
Organized high-level multi-religious gatherings on various dimensions of climate change. In April 2015, Religions for Peace helped organize a high-level event in the Vatican on the moral dimensions of climate change. This event brought together leading climate scientists, development specialists, and religious leaders from the different traditions. Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon gave the opening address, and two heads of state were in attendance. In July 2015, Religions for Peace also helped organize a Vatican summit in which mayors from some of the world’s major cities discussed the challenges of climate change, sustainable development, and modern slavery. Pope Francis addressed this gathering.
Drafted and disseminated a resource guide for religious communities on climate change. Both print and electronic versions of this guide were produced. This guide provides a succinct overview of the causes and consequences of climate change summarizes what the major religious and spiritual traditions teach about care for the environment and focuses on the role religious believers and religious communities can play.
Joined together with other concerned organizations and governments to form the International Rainforest Initiative. Led by religious, indigenous and interfaith leaders, academics, and experts, the Initiative gathers multi-religious communities to discuss the spiritual and ethical responsibility to end deforestation and develop an action plan to protect, restore and sustainably manage tropical rainforests. This action-oriented alliance will unite the vital roles of religious communities in countries with rainforests with the commitment of religious communities around the world.