Religious believers are strongly committed to act to address the challenge of climate change. This commitment to act–shared across religions–is based upon a deep understanding of its scientific and–above all–moral and religious dimensions. As a result, many religious communities strongly supported the Paris Agreement that deals with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, signed in December 2015 by 195 countries.
Religions for Peace (RfP) worked with vigor across the world to ensure a positive outcome to the climate change negotiations, and continues to strongly support the Paris Agreement. [See RfP’s EC Statement and Guide to Action]. It does so on the basis of the following three principles:
First, the collective impact of human behavior imperils the intricate web of life necessary for human flourishing. Therefore, we are morally obliged to advance human development in harmony with nature so that development can be “sustained” by the natural systems upon which it depends.
Second, climate change is having a disproportionate effect on the world’s most vulnerable people.
Climate change is largely being driven by the unsustainable activities of the world’s richest people. It is morally unacceptable for the few to abuse and destroy climate balance upon which human flourishing depends. Therefore, we believe that sustainable human development must honor human dignity and protect the common good, which includes our shared environment.
Third, there is a direct relationship between “capacity” and moral obligation. Diverse religious and moral traditions agree that the greater the capacity to address a grave threat, the greater the responsibility to do so. Collectively, we have the capacity to address climate change and this capacity is a measure of our moral responsibility to act. While all people have a responsibility to limit climate change, those most able to do so–particularly those whose well-being is secure and whose lifestyles often include the abundant waste of energy–have the greatest responsibility to act. This is true of individuals and states alike. The countries that emit the most carbon dioxide as well as those with the greatest wealth are morally obligated to take the lead in climate protection. This must include standing in solidarity with developing countries, including by sharing technology and providing needed financial resources.
RfP profoundly regrets the decision of any nation that turns away from these vital moral principles, and urges all nations to take the actions necessary to meet their obligations in the Paris Agreement. RfP further urges all companies, groups and persons to stay on course with the Paris Climate Agreement.
8 June 2017
Yours in partnership for Peace,
Dr. William Vendley