In the US, religious conservatives seem the first to dismiss the reality of climate change and other science-based data. Last night, however, it was religious leaders that called for action to stop climate change, to help those most affected, and for all, including poor countries and poor people, to do their part.
After being denied access to the COP headquarters, the interfaith Counsel of Peru, with what seemed like one thousand local and international representatives of various faiths regrouped. They marched, held a vigil and started a hunger strike. Most of the marchers were from local Peruvian churches who sang and help candles as they marched.
They tried to attract the attention of COP leaders to make the following pleas:
1. Take action on the Green Climate Fund, a fund to help poor countries take steps to reduce their CO2 emissions and promote forestation.
2. Make the agreement next year in Paris that will set binding commitments beyond 2020 a success that focuses not just on mitigation, but on adaptation for those hurt by climate change already in progress.
3. For Peru, they asked that their leaders don’t hide behind the excuse that the country needs to develop first. The leaders panic when the growth of GDP declines, but they do not have the same reaction when the environment is degraded.
4. For individuals of faith, they said it is a religious imperative to live in harmony with nature and to have virtuous habits that are sustainable environmentally.
What a positive force our religious organizations could be in this movement. At the very least, it would be great if church leaders distance themselves from politicians who reject scientific data on climate change.