“The faintness of the stars, the freshness of the morning, the dewdrops on the flowers, speak to us.” This beautiful prayer opened this year’s Season of Creation.
We may come from different faith traditions, yet what unites us is that we all share the gift of life on Earth, our only home. All our faiths teach us that we, human beings, have a sacred responsibility to nurture and protect the gift of life. This includes non-human animal and plant life as well as the complex Earth systems that provide air, sunshine, water, food, and all that is needed to sustain life.
Today, this gift of life is imperiled by our society’s deep-seated addiction to fossil fuels and obsession with maximising financial gain and economic growth. The World Council of Churches 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe last year declared: “The climate emergency is an ethical, moral and spiritual crisis, manifested in a fixation on profit.”
The latest scientific findings warn us that we are sliding from climate crisis to catastrophe. Already, several “climate tipping points” are being reached. The remaining carbon budget we have is being squandered. And the window for climate action to keep global heating at the relatively safe limit of 1.5 Celsius is rapidly closing. We can no longer deny the facts.
Though it is absolutely clear that no new fossil fuel expansion is compatible with meeting the Paris-agreed goal of 1.5 Celsius, new fossil fuel projects are being developed even now. At the global climate negotiations, powerful national interests and corporate lobbies continue to hinder the phase-out of fossil fuels as well as withhold climate finance and “loss and damage” reparations for poor nations and communities that bear the heaviest brunt of climate impacts though they contribute least to global greenhouse gas emissions.
As representatives of diverse faith communities gathered in Abu Dhabi, it is our moral imperative to urgently call our leaders and communities to a profound and rapid change of heart.
From a self-centred and anthropocentric narrative to an understanding that we are all deeply interconnected in the web of life: my wellbeing is interwoven with your wellbeing; human wellbeing is interwoven with the wellbeing of the Earth.
From competitive approaches and greed for more to collaborative ways of living and a radical sharing of resources.
As governments convene for COP28 taking place at the end of 2023 – a year that is set to be the hottest year on record, it is nothing less than our moral duty to call on our leaders to act immediately for the phase-out of fossil fuels. This means halting new extraction of fossil fuels and ending fossil fuel subsidies. This also means ensuring a just transition to an economy powered by renewables in ways that uphold Indigenous and children’s rights as well as leave no workers, communities, or nations behind.
At COP28, we must call on our leaders to commit to significant and swift reductions in emissions. Wealthier nations, who are disproportionately responsible for climate change, must take the lead in sharply reducing their own emissions and in financing emission reductions in poorer nations. They must also provide sufficient financial support to poorer nations to enable them to adapt and respond to the losses and damages they are already suffering.
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
The gift of life is one of wondrous interdependence. In the Christian tradition, we believe that we are called to reconciliation, to a renewed and right relationship with all Creation that expresses itself in our practical life.
This is why, in 2022, together with the United Nations Environment Programme, Muslim Council of Elders, and New York Board of Rabbis, the World Council of Churches signed a joint appeal, “Climate-Responsible Finance – A moral imperative and responsibility to all children and the living world.“ Through this appeal, we asked our financial service providers to take effective action to transition out of fossil fuel financing while positioning investment portfolios in ways that will help to meet net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Together, as people of faith and good will, we must live out hope for the future and change the trajectory of the world from one of destruction to a path of justice, peace, and life for all.
Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay
World Council of Churches
Image Credit: World Council of ChurchesTags: Faith Leaders’ Summit on COP28, Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay, WCC general secretary, World Council of Churches