Search for better tomorrow
Report of a consultation on "the Earth is Our Home":
A religious response to climate change in Asia
July 10-15, 2000, Bangalore, India
We are the participants of the Consultation on the Earth is our Home: A Religious Response to Climate Change in Asia, gathered at the Ecumenical Christian Center, Bangalore, India, from July 10-15, 2000. We come from 10 countries representing Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea and Sri Lanka. We also have participants from Argentina and Italy. Significantly, this pluralistic gathering brought together participants from Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Traditions, also from Islamic and Buddhist communities.
We have come to the Consultation carrying with us our countries' already devastating experiences of the on-going Climate Change phenomena. Bangladesh experienced its worst flood, submerging 60% of the country under water for several weeks. The twin but opposite phenomena of El Nino (drought) and La Nina (massive rainfall) have caused numerous deaths and destruction of crops in the Philippines. Abnormal, sudden and extreme rises and falls in temperatures sent cold and heat waves that shocked Thailand and Hong Kong. Sea-level rise and repeated floods occurred in Taiwan and South Korea. The unprecedented drought in India and increasing forest fires in Indonesia were observed due to the implementation of dominant development model which is based on growth-oriented economy through massive use of non-renewable resources.
The sharing of country situations during the Consultation has led us to realize a saddening reality that we are all facing a major ecological crisis. Despite this, we have emerged with optimism. This is because through the exchange of insights we came to realize that the ecological problems are not the only things that are common to us. More importantly, we have come to affirm that we share the fundamental belief that humankind is highly responsible for the nurture and conservation of the Earth as our Home. And Christians affirm that it is their sacred responsibility to strive for the conservation of Creation.
We share the view that Climate Change is as much an issue of inequality in patterns of trade and consumption as it is an issue of increase of greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, we believe that Climate Change is as much an issue of diminishing spirituality as it is an issue of pollution, deforestation and the depletion of natural resources.
We express our concern with the deceptive and diversionary policies that have been offered as "solutions"to Climate Change by developed countries. In as much as we recognize the urgent need to gear our efforts towards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, we would like to see an end to the large-scale extraction of natural resources in Asian countries that tremendously diminishes the ecosystems' ability to maintain their homeostasis.
We are disturbed by the prevalence of the unsustainable individualist-consumerist and highly polluting lifestyle of peoples in developed countries. We are alarmed by the growing influence of this competitive/consumption-centered psyche among the elite of developing countries. We know that the promotion (through Media) of this culture of consumption ensures a captive market, which provides maximum profits for multinational corporations, owned mostly by industrialized countries. This also motivates further exploiting and extracting resources from the rich natural resources especially of Asian countries to produce not the basic needs of the people but the needs of the economy of few industrialized states.
We believe that by reliving the principles of simplicity and harmony communicated by our different Faiths we can set ourselves free from the market-driven impulse to consume and exploit nature. We believe that linking back ourselves spiritually to the rest of Earth can help us in defining an identity apart from this.
We also share the understanding that integral to our response to climate change, we can explore indigenous wisdom and other models of development far more eco-sustainable than what is being endorsed as well as imposed upon our countries through unequal treaties by big and powerful developed countries.
We believe that through this Consultation we have moved one step forward in seeking in each of our various Faiths the ethical and spiritual paradigm, which will guide and empower our united ecological endeavor toward revived well-being.
1. We felt that a global spiritual response to Climate Change will best begin with a truthful and sincere repentance for our destructive attitude towards nature and fellow human beings.
2. We feel that to address Climate Change aside from restructuring external systems, there is a need to transform the individualist-consumerist psyche into an ecologically sensitive and socially responsive spirituality.
3. We are optimistic in our vision of continuous inter-faith consultations and actions to raise awareness among our local religious communities, empower the grass roots as well as address our concerns and promote our eco-spiritual paradigm in the international level.
4. We felt that there is a need to educate students from their childhood on environmental concerns. This can be done by introducing formal or informal Eco-concern courses in the curriculum of the schools.
5. We felt that media and alternative media play a vital role to create awareness on ecological issues.
We propose to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that:
- Eco-justice as well as economic justice should be a primary consideration in all Climate Change deliberations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
- The Convention should pursue the emission reductions of Greenhouse Gases particularly in the developed countries.
- The principle of equity and equal per-capita emissions should guide the Emissions Trading if finally this mechanism is adopted. The emissions trading has to be "supplemental" to the domestic actions taken to reduce the emissions.
- If the Clean Development Mechanism is finally adopted it should be based on the principles of equitable allocations and directed to non-carbon renewable energy technologies.
Though we come from various belief systems we have common aspirations for the future generation. As we journey into the third millennium, let us be guided with more spiritual wisdom and knowledge to sustain the Earth, our Home.
The group would like to give recommendations to local, individuals and to the Christian Conference of Asia to take the Climate Change issue as follows:
Local religious organizations
- Special day can be set apart as "eco-day". Special order of worship to be followed during this day.
- Sunday schools/other religious educational schools should include eco-issues in their curriculum.
- Ecological networks should be formed.
- Eco-resource centers should be set up in religious headquarters.
- Eco-task forces can be formed amongst children and youth. These should be involve in the following:
° Force the Government to use clean technology
° Organize writing letters/formation of pressure groups/writing articles to newspapers regarding environmental issues.
° Organize eco-cultural programs, e.g. drama, songs and street plays connected with eco-issues.
° Network with religious organizations of all faiths to tackle eco-issues.
- Eco-Videos to be produced and distributed. Support can be given to headquarters of CCA linked/affiliated organizations of various countries to have sub-titling or adding commentaries in their indigenous languages.
- Follow up activities to be done regarding ecological work.
- Support the education and advocacy efforts of people's organizations on climate change and other environmental issues.
- Posters, Bookmarks and Greeting Cards to be produced on ecological issues.
- CCA should set up a Resource Center for International Information on ecology.
- CCA should grant publicity to ongoing eco-friendly work.
- CCA should facilitate eco-networking.
- CCA can ask for materials from churches/councils/organizations that have an extensive ecological program and distribute it among its affiliates.
- Attend educational discussions on the root causes of environmental degradation and climate change.
- Training of individuals to give up wasteful attitudes.
- Training individuals to reduce consumption, re-use and recycle material such as water/paper/glass/plastic.
- The young should not be compelled/forced on CC Issues but their attitudes should be changed.
- Sharmadhana (donation of human energy) should be used for tree planting, waste management, proper land-use development, agro-forestry, etc. Individuals should make offerings of their energy instead of merely giving money for eco-activities.
- Say no to carry bags and clothe bags.
- Segregation of waste for disposal and use biodegradable wastes likes manure (composting) for planting.