Faith leaders call for climate justice

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate, has joined 25 other faith leaders in issuing their first united call for climate justice. The Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change asks the Canadian federal government to take specific action against climate change at the UN conference in Durban, South Africa (COP17), Nov. 28 to Dec. 9.

As the climate changes, Canadian faith leaders call for the government to act. PHOTO: KEVIN DOOLEY ON FLICKR
As the climate changes, Canadian faith leaders call for the government to act. PHOTO: KEVIN DOOLEY ON FLICKR

Hosted by the Canadian Council of Churches, delegates representing these diverse faith communities and faith-based organizations met in Ottawa Oct. 23 and 24 to develop the statement, which begins by acknowledging the spiritual aspect of climate change.

“We recognize that at its root the unprecedented human contribution to climate change is symptomatic of a spiritual deficit,” write the leaders. “[E]xcessive self-interest, destructive competition, and greed have given rise to unsustainable patterns of production and consumption.”

The leaders request the Canadian government take action in Durban, specifically to:

  • sign and commit to a newly negotiated fair, ambitious, and binding deal that respects international climate science;
  • commit to national carbon emissions targets and a comprehensive and ecologically sustainable national energy policy; and
  • aid in designing and implementing a Green Climate Fund, managed by the UN, that will help developing countries adapt to climate change and mitigate its impacts.

The Canadian statement has already been praised by the World Council of Churches (WCC) Programme Executive on Climate Change, Dr. Guillermo Kerber.

“WCC member churches have joined other religious organizations highlighting the spiritual implications of the consequences of climate change,” he said. “We are listening to the calls coming from churches who are suffering already the consequences of climate change.”

Although this statement is unprecedented in Canada, similar statements have been issued from the Global South, including from a June 2011 pan-African interfaith consultation.

Canadian Anglicans work for sustainability
This interfaith statement is one way that Canadian Anglicans are continuing to work towards environmental sustainability. At General Synod 2010, the Anglican Church of Canada passed a resolution calling for greater action on climate change at the parish, diocesan, and national levels.

Cam Gray, a lay leader who represented General Synod in Ottawa, encourages Canadian Anglicans to get involved locally through the Greening Anglican Spaces (GAS) network. Through this network, churches can learn how to do building energy audits and how to host conversations on examining and improving their environmental impact.

Mr. Gray, who serves on General Synod’s GAS task force, said that there is a strong connection between this national interfaith statement and local, specific action.

“We want to make sure that the statement both informs people but also empowers them to realize that there are different manners in which folks can take action,” he said. “As Anglicans and people of faith-based communities, we have a responsibility to care for creation.”

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