An interfaith message issued for Earth Day, 22 April, is calling for ambitious and urgent action to address the climate emergency, urging that “efforts to rebuild economies put people’s health before profit.”
The message acknowledges and mourns the trauma, anxiety, vulnerability and loss of life around the world caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among already vulnerable communities. "We are appalled by the increase in human rights violations, including racism, extreme surveillance, xenophobia, misuses of emergency powers and domestic violence,” reads the message.
But their message is ultimately one of hope. “We also witness more time for reflection,” reads the text. “We proclaim loudly that we were already living in a state of emergency prior to COVID-19.”
The message advocates for a just recovery to build a healthier future where the human family lives in a way that respects nature and Mother Earth on which we all depend. “The choices we now make will shape our society for years and it is crucial that efforts to rebuild economies put people’s health before profit,” reads the message. “Governments have pledged extraordinary amounts of money to prevent economic disasters because of this pandemic, but that money must not be used to finance future environmental degradation.”
We must not return to relaunching fossil fuel subsidies and unhealthy consumption patterns, urges the message. “The plans for a just recovery from COVID-19 must take into account the necessary measures to tackle climate change with a managed, planned and fair approach,” reads the text. “We call for a rebuilding which upholds the human rights, health and wellbeing of citizens as critical to the stability and security of all countries.”
In other words, see beyond this moment of fear with moral courage, urges the message: “This is the time to create a healthier and more resilient society together.”
Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, World Council of Churches deputy general secretary, voiced her support for the statement, adding that COVID-19 recovery should move forward with the knowledge that God has entrusted human beings as stewards of the earth.
“As we have proven our ability to act together in solidarity for our one human family, now is the opportune time to make fundamental changes to our economic and social systems in order to preserve God’s creation and the future of our children and grandchildren,” said Phiri. “There can be no real recovery without socio-economic justice.”
The interfaith message will be sent from the Interfaith Liaison Committee of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
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