Christiana Figureres of UNFCCC receives the religious leaders' statement. © Sean Hawkey/WCC

Christiana Figureres of UNFCCC receives the religious leaders' statement. © Sean Hawkey/WCC

In a recent statement, religious leaders called for an ambitious climate agreement, reminding all governments to commit to emission cuts and climate risk reduction. They promised to continue working for climate justice, including divestment from fossil energy.

The statement was developed by the World Council of Churches (WCC), ACT Alliance, CIDSE – an international alliance of Catholic development agencies and Religions for Peace with regard to the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris.

The statement was handed to the secretary general of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres, on 19 October in Bonn, Germany. This was on the occasion of the last round of climate negotiations before COP21 and the inter-sessional meeting of faith leaders from various traditions.

“As representatives of the majority of the global population who live with religious affiliations and values, we will not only hold leaders to account, but will also support politicians working towards an ambitious global climate agreement in Paris and beyond”, reads the statement.

The statement is a follow-up to the Interfaith Summit on Climate Change organized by Religions for Peace and the WCC in September 2014 in New York, as well as Pope Francis’ Encyclical on “care for our common home”. The document also refers to international faith initiatives such as pilgrimages for climate justice and fasting for the climate.

Dr Guillermo Kerber, WCC programme executive for Care for Creation and Climate Justice, said, “Once again faith leaders have expressed an urgent need for a fair, ambitious and binding treaty as an outcome from Paris. 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.”

Religious leaders have argued in the statement that an ambitious Paris agreement is not only a scientific, political and economic necessity but also a fundamental ethical and moral challenge, and the religious communities immensely care about it.

In the statement they also referred to five key religious convictions regarding climate justice that they share across different faith contexts. They stressed that COP 21 offers the right momentum to translate fundamental values and beliefs into concrete climate action, leading to transformation towards a zero carbon, climate resilient, more equitable and just future.

Apart from addressing governments, the statement calls on all other stakeholders in climate negotiations to act responsibly and strengthen their efforts. A firm commitment by the signatories of the statement was made to focus on their own emission reduction targets, to continue addressing climate risks, raise climate consciousness and divest from fossil fuels.

Statement from religious leaders for the upcoming COP 21

WCC pilgrimage blog posts related to climate justice and COP 21

More information on the Interfaith Summit on Climate Change, New York 2014

WCC’s work on climate justice and care for creation

Video: Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel on climate justice and the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace

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