The conference's goal will be "to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius." (Photo: Chuck Summers/Contemplative Images)
A diverse group of global faith leaders has issued a statement encouraging support of the December 2015 United Nations' climate change conference in Paris.
Signed by 154 faith leaders from more than 40 countries, the document is addressed to global leaders who will assemble in Paris for the conference.
The conference is known as COP21. The conference's goal will be "to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius."
The statement was delivered on Oct. 19 to Christiana Figueres, secretary general of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and contains five affirmations that the group believes COP21 will address:
1. Creation is a gift from God. Therefore, it must be respected and protected.
2. The teaching, "treat others how you want to be treated," is common to all faith traditions and includes future generations in its purview. This demands a shift to sustainable lifestyles.
3. A common call to protect the vulnerable makes addressing climate change a moral duty as it impacts, first and foremost, those living in poverty.
4. Change is possible. Self-destruction is not a necessity.
5. Religious convictions and theological perspectives are relevant "for informing new models of development with social and ecological justice."
The statement concludes with a "call for a fair, ambitious and binding global deal applicable to all countries," which should include, among other components, a plan to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. This will require the collaborative efforts of governments, religious communities and individuals.
"Once again faith leaders have expressed an urgent need for a fair, ambitious and binding treaty as an outcome from Paris," Guillermo Kerber, program executive for the World Council of Churches' (WCC's) Care for Creation and Climate Justice program, said in a press release.
"Time is running out, and present commitments by states, although relevant, do not match with the needs of people in the most vulnerable communities in various places who are already suffering the impacts of climate change," he added.
Drafting the statement was a joint project of the WCC, ACT Alliance (of which Baptist World Aid is a member) and International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity (CIDSE).
Multiple faith traditions were represented, including Christian denominations ranging from Pentecostals to Greek Orthodox, as well as leaders from the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh traditions.
U.S. signatories included John McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service; Elizabeth A. Eaton, acting bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Churches of America; and Nathanael Symeonides, archimandrite of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Baptist signatories were Miguel Tomás Castro, senior minister at Emmanuel Baptist Church San Salvador; Roberto Jose Baltodano Leiva, president of the Baptist Convention of Nicaragua; Miguel Mendoza Mamani, president of the Union of Baptist Church of Aymara in Bolivia; and Baroi Ashin, general secretary of the Bangladesh Baptist Church Sangha (originating in the work of William Carey in 1796).
The statement is available here.