French religious leaders meet President Hollande on climate change

EPUDF President Rev. Rev. Laurent Schlumberger (left) and LWF advocacy officer for climate change Martin Kopp. Credit: © EPUDF-DC and LWF/Sean Hawkey
EPUDF President Rev. Rev. Laurent Schlumberger (left) and LWF advocacy officer for climate change Martin Kopp. Credit: © EPUDF-DC and LWF/Sean Hawkey

(LWI) - The leader of the United Protestant Church of France (EPUDF) Rev. Laurent Schlumberger, was among religious leaders who met French President Francois Hollande and presented a statement on the spiritual and moral challenge of climate change, as France prepares to host the next  United Nations (UN) climate change conference.

The meeting with Hollande and other government officials at the presidential palace, included a presentation by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) advocacy officer on the international Fast for the Climate campaign, which the LWF jointly coordinates with other faith and secular organizations.

The Conference of Religious Leaders of France (CRCF) representatives highlighted France’s key diplomatic role in the 21st Conference of Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) to be held in Paris, 30 November-11 December. They expressed their collective conviction “that beyond technological, economic and geopolitical issues, the climate crisis is a spiritual and moral challenge” as it intimately relates to humanity’s domination and exploitation of the environment.  

EPUDF, an LWF member church, is a member of the Protestant Federation of France, one of the six groups of religious leaders that make up the CRCF.

The CRCF “Statement on the Climate Crisis” underlined the challenge upon religious leaders to act for justice, and in this context “prepare urgently a safe and viable future for our children.”

Their appeal to the French president called for the adoption of a binding agreement at COP 21 that “commits us to a timely end to the era of fossil fuels and sets out the bringing together of objectives for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions so that the average temperature rise be kept to well below 2°C.” The measures agreed upon at the UN conference should ensure protection of the most vulnerable populations from the impact of climate change, taking into account adaptation needs, and the loss and damage suffered by such communities.

Welcoming the CRCF statement, Hollande emphasized the critical role of religions in not only informing communities but also mobilizing them. The president said it was significant that faith leaders speak together on the subject of climate change as it is a concern for all people. While State leaders and decision-makers can make a difference, they cannot do it alone without the support of others, he added.

LWF advocacy officer Martin Kopp and Laura Morosini from Christians United for the Earth, spoke on behalf of the global initiative to fast in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable people, who are most severely affected by the impact of climate change.  

Kopp noted that thousands of people in more than 90 countries on all continents, from different religious traditions but also agnostics and atheists had joined the initiative which was launched in 2013. “Someone is fasting today in Asia, and in other parts of the world as part of the fasting chain that will end at COP21 in Paris,” Kopp remarked.