This week, the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change was announced, calling for Muslims around the world to phase out use of fossil fuels and switch to renewable forms of energy.
This follows on the heels of the June release of Laudato Si’, the encyclical issued by Pope Francis on the environment, climate change, and care of creation, including humanity. The encyclical draws deeply not only on climate science but also on the tenets of peace, love, mercy, caring, and justice that underlie many different world religions and philosophies. Francis intended this document for the world’s Catholics and “all people of good will” whether or not they follow a religious/spiritual practice.
Faith leaders from other spiritual and religious traditions, including the Dalai Lama, have also voiced their concerns on combatting climate change and environmental degradation. The People’s Climate March on September 21, 2014 brought people from all corners of the globe together in solidarity to demand action on measures to reign in the greenhouse gases that are already wreaking havoc on our climate and people’s lives. Various governments have made pledges to cut emissions and convert to renewable energy sources, all as a lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, November 30-December 11, 2015.
Past conferences have been disappointing, as countries could not demonstrate the political will needed for the huge change in energy systems required, but, this time, finally, there is hope, due in large measure to the diverse voices demanding or pleading for change.
I have spent years in the grassroots movement to ban high volume hydrofracking in New York State, which drew me into the fight against fracking in other states, as well as promoting the rapid expansion of renewable energy in order to stop using fossil fuels as soon as possible. This led me to not only being involved in the climate movement but also to being more open to expressing calls for climate justice, environmental justice, and social justice in keeping with my Catholic faith.
There were many times when I thought we had lost the fight against fracking here in New York (and we are still involved in some issues with it, despite the current regulatory situation). There were even times when I had no hope left, but we did ultimately prevail.
There have been times when I had no hope that meaningful action against global climate change would materialize, but, seeing so many disparate groups of people come together to demand climate action gives me hope.
The years of inaction have put us in a precarious situation. Demand climate action now! Contact the government agency in your country and tell them they must reach an effective accord in Paris.
The world can’t afford to wait.