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Religious leaders pressure United Nations

NEW YORK (SE): An Interfaith Climate Statement to World Leaders was presented to the secretary general of the United Nations (UN), Ban Ki-moon, at a ceremony held in the Chapel of the Church Centre for the UN in Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza, New York, on April 18, four days prior to the scheduled signing of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change adopted last year on December 12.

The petition was signed by 270 religious leaders from the Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Jain faiths, as well as representatives from indigenous religions, the Quakers and Baha’i traditions.

The religious leaders stressed in their statement that climate change is a moral issue, as is investing in and extracting fossil fuels.

They add that in working to counteract climate change, faith plays a vital role, as it has much to do with the behaviour of billions of people around the world.

“In all the world’s great spiritual traditions, we find common ground in our compassionate defence of climate justice,” the Plum Village International Community of Engaged Buddhists, says in a statement.

“Caring for the earth is our shared responsibility. It is up to us spiritual leaders to raise our voices to protect the most vulnerable and to protect our precious home and all species who share it with us,” the statement continues.

A statement released by the Muslim Alliance in North America links over-consumption of the world’s resources with the growth of inequality among people, as it emphasises greed not need.

“Faith shapes the values and behaviour of billions of people and underscores our moral and spiritual responsibility to nurture and protect our environmental resource,” it says.

Among the high profile Catholic representatives to sign the statement are Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, the chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences of the Holy See, and the international president of Caritas, Luis Cardinal Tagle.

Among other high profile figures on the list of signatories are the former primate of South Africa, Bishop Desmond Tutu; Reverend Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches; Swami Aginivesh; chief rabbi, Shear Yashuv Cohen; grand imam, Maulana Syed Muhammad Abdul Khabir Azad; and Sister Jayanti Kirplani; as well as Beatriz Schulthess and a sheikh, Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya, from the Sufi Order.

Fifteen faith-based organisations worldwide took part in the drafting and dissemination of the statement. It is the third statement to be produced that urges world leaders to adopt the Paris Agreement. The first was released in 2014.

In addition, the statement has received the support of 4,639 individuals and 86 groups from around the world.

The action taken by the interfaith leaders reaffirms the support of the worldwide faith community for more ambitious climate action, which includes the swift phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies and accelerating the transition to 100 per cent renewable energy, as well as to limit the global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

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