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25 September 2014

Faith leaders unite to call for climate change action

Faith leaders unite to call for climate change action

Faith leaders met this week to discuss the vital role religious communities must play in tackling "climate chaos".

As record numbers of people turned out to march through the streets of New York on Sunday, along with hundreds of thousands of others around the world, faith leaders were meeting to call for action from the 125 heads of state attending yesterday's Climate Summit.

The People's Climate March through Manhattan, and the 2,700 other events in 161 countries around the world, exceeded all expectations. In the UK similar marches took place in London and other major cities.

As the public took to the streets, 30 faith leaders met in New York to discuss climate change. The signatories to the interfaith statement included US pastor Rev Jim Wallis, Rev Suzanne Matale from the Council of Churches in Zambia and Father Michael Czerny, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, among others.

Their statement recognised climate change is a "major obstacle to the eradication of poverty. The climate crisis is about the survival of humanity on planet earth and action must reflect these facts with urgency. We urge the rich to support the poor and the vulnerable, significantly and everywhere, especially in least developed countries, small island states and sub-Saharan Africa."

Senior Climate Advisor Mohamed Adow, from Christian Aid, said: "We see religious conflict and division around the world, yet on the issue of climate change faith leaders from different traditions are speaking with one voice.

"Irrespective of religion, creed or race we all share one planetary home and anything which threatens that is a common enemy. Not only can the issue of climate change bring people from across faith traditions together, religious communities have a huge part to play in finding a solution. The people's climate marches around the world have shown the popular demand for action and faith leaders have made the moral case."

Pledges made at the summit included halving the rate of rainforest destruction by 2030 and halting it completely by 2040. David Cameron joined 120 other world leaders, making a speech on the need for action.

He said poorer countries would need help from richer countries to use environmentally friendly resources and that: "It's unrealistic to expect developing countries to forgo the high carbon route to growth that so many western countries enjoyed, unless we support them to achieve green growth".

Referring to the summit, Alliance member Tearfund said: "Climate change is only going to get worse unless all of us reduce our impact on our planet. We believe that all the development progress we have made to this point will be for nothing unless we switch to a just and sustainable economy that drives down poverty without wrecking the planet."