Religion and climate change

Dominique Browning blogging for the The Environmental Defense Fund writes about Faith and Climate Change:

This is not, as some critics claim, about turning environmentalism into a religion; that is a perversion of what is actually happening. The fact is, in order to succeed in significantly altering the global course of climate change, we are going to have to harness all the power we have, whether it is the power of the market, the power of technology, or the power of heart and soul.

Browning notes the role of Interfaith Power and Light, begun by Episcopal priest, the Rev. Sally Bingham, in bringing the concerns of faith communities about the environment to public awareness:

With every passing week, the scientific data gets more precise, and more frightening. Yet this has proven insufficient to move people to action. All the more fascinating, then, to watch the growing movement among religious leaders who use their pulpits to venture into environmental action. More than 10,000 congregations of Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist and other faiths are working in 30 states as members of Interfaith Power & Light (IPL). These religious leaders are clearly having an impact on people across the country who would never call themselves environmentalists.

IPL sees climate change as a profound moral issue, a matter of values—something many environmentalists have been wary of addressing, preferring to focus on technological or economic solutions as being less politically charged and ultimately more effective. But no matter what our approach, we all have something to learn from faith communities about how to bridge divisions and instruct, inspire and mobilize people.

In other stories on climate change and religion:

Pope denounces failure at Copenhagen

Pope Benedict XVI denounced the failure of world leaders to agree to a new climate change treaty in Copenhagen last month, saying Monday that world peace depends on safeguarding God’s creation.

He issued the admonition in a speech to ambassadors accredited to the Vatican, an annual appointment during which the pontiff reflects on issues the Vatican wants to highlight to the diplomatic corps.

Benedict has been dubbed the “green pope” for his increasingly vocal concern about the need to protect the environment. Under his watch, the Vatican has installed photovoltaic cells on its main auditorium to convert sunlight into electricity and has joined a reforestation project aimed at offsetting its CO2 emissions.

For the pontiff, it’s a moral issue: Church teaching holds that man must respect creation because it’s destined for the benefit of humanity’s future.

Climate change: a civil rights issue?

Climate change is more than an environmental issue. It is a human rights and economic justice issue. Why? Because though climate change impacts all of us, different nations, and different communities within nations, experience the effects of climate change in varying ways, some worse than others.

This point was clearly made at last month’s U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen, where it quickly became evident that the rich and powerful nations — particularly the U.S. and members of the European Union — dictate the debate at the expense of poorer countries. That needs to change.

I was part of the only African-American delegation at the conference as a member of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies’ Commission to Engage African Americans on Climate Change. We were there because African Americans have a dog in this fight. We produce less greenhouse gas emissions (about 20% less than other Americans, according to a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation study), but we bear a greater burden in terms of pollution and climate change.

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