03 Dec Update on COP-17 from Durban, South Africa
In the midst of all the disappointments with rumors of Canada backing out of the Kyoto protocol and the rich nations deferring binding emissions targets until 2020, it was heartening to see the Interfaith Leaders at COP-17 step up, accept responsibility for the world’s predicament and commit to action.
Here is the text of the Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change, its Durban Addendum, a list of the signatories on the scroll that Christiana Figueres was presented today at COP-17 in Durban by the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, Ela Gandhi, along with the text of the Statement from the Interfaith Leadership Round Table of KwaZulu Natal. Our dear friend, Stuart Scott, did an excellent job putting it all together! I’m very confident that the interfaith leaders who signed these documents will uphold their commitments much better than the political leaders that Christiana is dealing with! In fact, several of the signatories were talking to me about Organic Veganism today as the commitment to “Compassion for all Creation” in the Durban Addendum has strong implications on diet and consumption, in general.
Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change:
The nurturing and respect for Life is a central doctrine of all faiths on Earth. Yet today we are endangering life on Earth with dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions. These gases are destabilizing the global climate system, heating the Earth, acidifying the oceans, and putting both humanity and all living creatures at unacceptable risk.
The extraordinary delicacy of Nature’s balance is becoming increasingly apparent, even as human actions inflict ever larger, more dangerous and potentially irreversible changes on the indivisible web of atmosphere, earth, ocean and life that is creation. Today our faiths stand united in their call to care for the Earth, and to protect the poor and the suffering. Strong action on climate change is imperative by the principles and traditions of our faiths and the collective compassion, wisdom and leadership of humanity. We recognize the science of climate change, and we call for global leaders to adopt strong, binding, science based targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases in order to avert the worst dangers of a climate crisis. We urge the nations of Earth to ensure that those who will suffer under climate induced changes such as more severe storms, floods, droughts and rising seas, be aided to adapt, survive and equitably prosper.
We recognize that climate change is not merely an economic or technical problem, but rather at its core is a moral, spiritual and cultural one. We therefore pledge to join together to teach and guide the people who follow the call of our faiths. We must all learn to live together within the shared limits of our planet.
We recognize that just as climate change presents us with great challenges, so too it offers great opportunities. Mitigating climate change can stimulate economies sustainably, protect our planet, lift up the poor, and unite to a common cause people threatened by a common danger. Assisting vulnerable communities and species to survive and adapt to climate change fulfills our calling to wisdom, mercy, and the highest of human moral and ethical values.
We commit ourselves to action – to changing our habits, our choices, and the way we see the world – to learning and teaching our families, friends, and faiths – to conserving the limited resources of our home, planet Earth, and preserving the climate conditions upon which life depends.
In this spirit, we call upon our leaders, those of our faiths, and all people of Earth to accept the reality of the common danger we face, the imperative and responsibility for immediate and decisive action, and the opportunity to change.
The Durban Addendum:
While Climate Change is a symptom, the fever that our Earth has contracted, the underlying disease is the disconnection from Creation that plagues human societies throughout our Earth.
We, the undersigned, pledge to heal this disconnection by promoting and exemplifying Compassion for all Creation in all our actions.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Bishop Geoff Davies, Executive Director of South African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Chair of KwaZulu Natal Inter Religious Council
Dr. Mustafa Ali, Secretary General of African Council of Religious Leaders
Bishop Michael Vorster, Methodist Church of Southern Africa, Natal
Rev. Jenny Sprong, Methodist Church of Southern Africa
Rev. Emmanuel Gabriel, Methodist Church of Southern Africa
Stewart Kilburn, HIVAN 911
Saydoon Sayed, WCRP Coordinator, Secretary of KZN IRC
Rev. Sue Britton, Anglican Church of South Africa
Rabbi Hillel Avidan, South African Union of Progressive Judaism
Professor Hoosen Vawda, Nelson Medical School
Cannon Desmond Lambrechts, National Religious Association for Social Development
Dr. Sylvia Kaye, Secretary of Bahai Faith of South Africa
Dhunluxmi Desai, KZN Inter Religious Council and SA Hindu Maha Sabha
Sr. Agnes Grasboek, Sisters of Mariannhill/ World Conference on Religions for Peace
Jerald Vedan, Buddhist Representative for Inter Religious Council
Pundit Raj Bharat, Atman Universal Movement and WCRP
Sr. Usha Jeevan, Brahma Kumaris
Seelan Moodliar, Brahma Kumaris
Ela Gandhi, Honorary President of Religions for Peace
Isaac Withmann, YAGM-ELCA
Kristin Opalinski, LUCSA-LWF
Rev. Lumka Sigaba, Methodist Church of Southern Africa
Jaine Rao, Climate Healers
Sailesh Rao, Climate Healers
Mark Naiker, Catholic Youth
Stuart Scott, Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change
Paddy Meskin, President WCRP SA/ Secretariat for KZN IRC
Moulana Abdullah, IRCPT – Tanzania
Mahomed Yussuf, Sunni Jumait
Maulana Mahomed Ebrahim, Sunni Jamait Ulama
Priscilla McDougal, United Church of Christ
Shamim David, Inter Religious Council of Zambia
Mantanta Wasim, Inter Religious Council of Zambia
Sheikh Idrisa Mtembu, Muslim Association of Malami
Sheikh Saleem Banda, WAMY
Adam Makwinda, World Assembly of Muslim Youth
Fred Kruger, NRCCC
Statement from the Interfaith Leadership Round Table of KwaZulu Natal:
We, the members of the Inter-Religious community express our deep disappointment with our local and international political leadership, which has failed to take decisive steps to make the changes required for the survival of humanity and life on Earth. The science is clear. The influence of greed, materialism and selfishness block the path toward improvement of our physical well-being.
We demand that our political leaders honor previous commitments and quickly move toward more humane, environmentally responsible positions and policies. There is strong evidence that such steps will not be taken in COP-17.
We call on the religious and spiritual communities globally to do what our political leaders have failed to do. We continue to pledge our commitment and encourage all political leaders to stand with us.
We are confirmed in our determination. We will no longer accept words and catchy phrases. We want a commitment to action immediately.
Signed in Durban, SA on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at Diakonia Center.