LWF joins faith communities’ call for ambitious Paris outcome

 Joint faith and spiritual leaders present statement to Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Photo:  Sean Hawkey
Joint faith and spiritual leaders present statement to Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Photo: Sean Hawkey

BONN, Germany/GENEVA, 20 October 2015 (LWI) - As negotiators gather in Bonn this week to work on a draft text for the December 2015 United Nations climate conference in Paris, a coalition of more than 150 global faith and spiritual leaders is urging political leaders to commit towards “a fair, ambitious and binding global deal” that safeguards the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations.

In a “Statement of Faith and Spiritual Leaders” presented today in Bonn to Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the faith leaders from 50 countries said “for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations” the COP21 climate conference offers a critical opportunity to reach “a global and comprehensive agreement on climate justice and climate protection” supported by all world nations.

Coordinated by ACT Alliance, CIDSE, The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Religions for Peace, and the Word Council of Churches, the common statement was handed over to Figueres by Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel, Director of Bread for the World, Germany, and Karin Kortmann, Vice-President of the Central Committee of German Catholics. Other faith representatives at the event included Martin Kopp, LWF advocacy officer for climate justice.

“We urge governments to commit to building climate resilience, phasing out fossil energies and reaching zero emissions by midcentury. We call for a robust mechanism to review and ratchet up ambitions, transparency and accountability rules applicable to all, and the provision of finance and support to poor and vulnerable countries,” Füllkrug-Weitzel said.

LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge and several Lutheran church leaders are among the faith leaders who have signed the statement, together with representatives of other church organizations as well as leaders from Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh communities.

Today’s statement builds up on growing advocacy by faith groups over the past 12 months, such as the Pope’s encyclical Laudato Si’, the declaration of the New York Interfaith Summit, the Lambeth Declaration, and the Islamic declaration on climate change.

“We join our voice to the voices of other faith communities and organizations to jointly demand decisive steps to address climate change,” Junge added.

On 16 October, the general secretary wrote to the LWF member churches urging them to increase their advocacy on climate justice with their governments in the buildup to the Paris summit, as “climate change is a matter of urgency and a matter of justice.” He reminded them that the LWF has for many years highlighted that climate change is a critical intergenerational issue, and warned that ecological degradation particularly hits the poorest communities.

“Led by LWF youth, the LWF has been actively engaging in action and advocacy to address the life-threatening challenge of climate change. Because the LWF wants to be part of the solution, in June this year, it took the decision to not invest in fossil fuels,” Junge added.

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