WCC announces interfaith summit on climate change

Religious leaders to encourage international, political leaders to take action at September meeting

July 16, 2014



The World Council of Churches (WCC) will hold an Interfaith Summit on Climate Change Sept. 21-22 in New York City. At the summit, organized together with Religions for Peace, more than 30 religious leaders will take a united stand to encourage international and political leaders to concretely address the causes and consequences of climate change.

The interfaith summit is being held immediately before the United Nations Climate Summit, called by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, to galvanize and catalyze climate action, bringing bold announcements and actions that will reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015.

WCC members said they hoped their united voice would be also heard at the upcoming Conferences of Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Lima in December 2014 and in Paris in 2015.

“We will join our voices in the call for human rights and climate change to be addressed systematically,” said Daniel Murphy, campaigns assistant at the UK-based Environmental Justice Foundation. Murphy spoke to the WCC Central Committee, the governing body of the WCC, which met this month in Geneva.

‘This is a big power game’

The WCC has been addressing climate change issues for more than two decades, and now the effects of climate change on human rights has reached an urgent level, said Kirsten Auken, an advocacy advisor at DanChurchAid, a Danish nonprofit with the mission of supporting the world’s poorest people. Auken said the main message of the interfaith summit will be that “political leaders need to act to close the gap between what is needed and the lack of action on a political level. We, as church-related and faith-based groups, have an important role to play in pushing our leaders to be brave.”

In this case, “pushing” means capturing the attention of political leaders who are in a position to make a difference within the UN.

“This is a big power game and we have to admit that,” said Auken. “We have to be the moral voice in this.”

At the same time that WCC members challenge political leaders, they also need to take the initiative in their own lives to care for the earth around them, said Metropolitan Serafim Kykkotis, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa.

“We must unite through our common action to save the planet and give our children a better future,” he said.

The 30 participants at the summit will represent groups made up of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, indigenous peoples and others, said Guillermo Kerber, coordinator of the WCC program on Care for Creation and Climate Justice.

“The relevance is unprecedented because of the crucial moment we are living today. We have called for years to have a fair, ambitious and binding treaty on climate change,” he said.

Kerber and the other summit organizers agreed that the United States is first among the nations that must lead the effort to take climate action, based on science, that can help protect the basic human rights of individuals in this generation and in future ones. U.S.-based pastors and churches are adding their voices to the calls for action, said the Rev. Everdith Landrau, who serves with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

“There are conscious programs that have been trickling down to our local churches,” she said. “Those seeds are being planted.”

  1. Quoting from the above article, is the following, "the effects of climate change on human rights has reached an urgent level, said Kirsten Auken, an advocacy advisor at DanChurchAid,....." Yes I would agree with that statement, but probably not for the same reasons as Kirsten Auken might cite. At the root of climate change concerns is the denial of free and unrestricted access to fossil fuels in much of the developed world, especially the U.S. These man made supply constraint policies work to keep the price of these God given natural resources much higher than they would otherwise be. As a consequence, countries, some of which are the worst known violators of human rights, are enriched by the high price of fossil fuels because they end up producing a large part of the world's supply. And at the current prices of fossil fuels, the "poor" will never have a chance at changing their lifestyle in a fashion that is enjoyed by the rest of the developed world. This is moral Christian compassion? The environmentalist would rely on computer models that have formulary variables which can be and are manipulated to project planetary armageddon sometime far enough into the future so that it makes observation of reality impossible. In the meantime, the planet worship theology of environmentalism, is killing people today! I ask these questions. Does God have sovereignty over this earth or not? Why if man truly was destroying His creation by CO2 emmissions, you don't think that with a wink of the eye, God couldn't make it impossible to access fossil fuels? God has dominion over His creation, lest we forget that important Biblical precept. And I ask, what loving God would provide a plentiful life changing natural resource like fossil fuel, that, when brought out of the earth, responsibly, and used toward the betterment of society, would then take it all away because use of such fossil fuels created a planetary climate crisis? I challenge every one of you who think it would be wise to take away access to fossil fuels via climate change policies to just live your lives even for one week, not using anything that fossil fuels are responsible for powering and producing in terms of all, and I mean all of the goods and services you use. When good stewardship of earth and nature turns into idol worship, we have gone too far, and I think this focus on earth and nature vs. the focus on God and morality is leading us away from God not closer to Him. Yes indeed, the urgency is here and now. How about we put our Trust in God and use the natural gifts we have been graciously given, responsibly, as good stewards, and truly make this broken world a little better place for most of its inhabitants. As Auken states, "we have to be the moral voice in this". Greg Kateff, ruling elder St.Timothy Presbyterian Church, Livonia, MI

    by Greg Kateff

    July 20, 2014

  2. I am delighted for the energy and attention is being devoted to caring for the earth. I pray for concord and assertive movement on every front. Do recognize, however, that many people in the pews have been eager for strong action for decades, longing for the leaders to catch up with the people! Thanks be to God for these efforts. May these seeds grow great shrubs in which the birds of the air find shelter and all God's creatures find fruit and shade!

    by Mary Van Andel

    July 17, 2014

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