Faith and secular leaders from many traditions gathered in Durban on December 2, 2011 to sign a historic interfaith declaration on climate change. Those present included Bishop Geoff Davis, who represented Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu; Christiana Figueres, head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; and Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mohandas Gandhi and a member of Parliament in South Africa from 1994 to 2004.
Prior signatories of the declaration include more than 100 faith and secular organizations from around the world, including the World Council of Churches, 350.org, and Interfaith Power & Light. Numerous individuals have signed as well, including the Dalai Lama.
“The nurturing and respect for Life is a central doctrine of all faiths on Earth,” states the declaration. “Yet today we are endangering life on Earth with dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions. These gases are destabilizing the global climate system, heating the Earth, acidifying the oceans, and putting both humanity and all living creatures at unacceptable risk.”
Signatories and organizers of the document are committed to action, both individually and collectively. The group calls for strong and immediate limits to climate changing emissions of greenhouse gasses, predominantly CO2. They have brought this message to previous climate negotiations, including those at Bangkok, Barcelona, and Copenhagen. Stuart Scott, general manager of the Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change, stated at the signing that “Enough is enough. We need to act now and stop the weapons of mass ‘distractions.’"
According to the document, actions needed include changing habits, choices, and worldviews to conserve the Earth’s limited resources and the climate conditions upon which life depends. Such changes may offer great opportunities as well. Mitigating climate change, the group suggests, can stimulate sustainable economies, protect the planet, "lift up the poor," and unite to a common cause people threatened by a common danger.
The signatories and supporters of the declaration state the religions of Earth stand as one behind strong and immediate limits to climate, and urge the nations of the earth to do the same - to recognize both the urgency and opportunity for change.
(Based on reports from Durban from Green Boston Harbor Project (GBH) Director Anamarija Frankić)