Buddhists Join Pope and Other Religious Leaders in Call For Greater Action on Climate Change
Four Buddhists were among religious leaders gathered at the Vatican on Monday in advance of next month’s UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) for a summit called Faith and Science: Towards COP26. Some 40 leaders at the event, which was organized by the Vatican, Britain, and Italy, represented all of the world’s major faith traditions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism.
“COP26 in Glasgow represents an urgent summons to provide effective responses to the unprecedented ecological crisis and the crisis of values that we are presently experiencing, and in this way to offer concrete hope to future generations,” the Pope said in a written address given to participants. “We want to accompany it with our commitment and our spiritual closeness.” (Reuters)
World leaders will meet for COP26 from 1–12 November. The appeal from the religious leaders was given to Italian foreign minister Luigi Di Maio and Britain’s Alok Sharma, president of COP26 in Glasgow.
“The faith leaders who have come here today represent around three-quarters of the world’s population. That is by any measure a significant percentage of people across the globe and that’s why their voice matters so much,” Sharma said after the meeting. (Reuters)
The appeal was signed on 4 October, the feast day for Saint Francis of Assisi, the Catholic patron saint of animals and the environment. It follows a series of appeals to world leaders to more urgently address the climate crisis.
Buddhists present at the Vatican summit included Dr. Maria Habito, representing Venerable Master Hsin-Tao, along with Master Hsin-Tao himself, founder of the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Foundation and Museum of World Religions; Rev. Shoten Mineghisi, director of the Soto Zen Buddhist European Office, London; and Rev. Takako Niwano, representing Rev. Kosho Niwano, president-designate of Rissho Kosei Kai. Ven. Dr. Galkande Dhammananda Thera, executive director of Sr Lanka’s Walpola Rahula Institute for Buddhist Studies, was listed among the religious leaders and scientists who were involved in the preparatory process.
The appeal, which was issued after months of online meetings by the religious leaders:
• Calls for the world to achieve net-zero carbon emissions as soon as possible, to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels;
• Presses wealthier nations and those with the greatest responsibility to take the lead, stepping up their climate action at home and financially supporting vulnerable countries to adapt to and address climate change.
• Urges governments to raise their ambition and their international cooperation to transition to clean energy and to sustainable land use practices, environmentally friendly food systems and responsible financing.
• Commits the faith leaders themselves to greater climate action. Notably, doing more to educate and influence members of their traditions and actively participating in the public debate on environmental issues. The faith leaders will also support action to green their community assets, such as properties and investments. (GOV.UK)
The participants at the event symbolically marked their commitment to the environment by pouring a cup of soil onto an olive tree that will be planted at the Vatican.
Britain and Italy are co-chairing the UN summit in Glasgow next month, which will host representatives from 197 nations to discuss future action on the climate crisis.
Sharma, who will take the appeal to the UN summit, said: “I am honored to receive this historic joint appeal as we press for progress towards limiting global temperature rises to 1.5°C at COP26 in just a few weeks’ time. We must all hear the voices of those most affected by climate change and I hope people of faith will continue to be a key part of this dialogue as we work together to drive forward climate action.” (GOV.UK)
Pope, other religious leaders issue pre-COP26 appeal on climate change (Reuters)
Pope, faith leaders urge nations at climate summit to care for creation (The Boston Pilot)
Holy See: Faith and Science: An Appeal for COP26 (GOV.UK)
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