COLUMN: An interfaith view on climate change
Here in Nelson, a local interfaith group has come together to advocate for climate justice and to urge all citizens to participate in the transition to a zero-carbon future. The following groups are working together for carbon pollution solutions and sharing spiritual practices: Ascension Lutheran Church, Cathedral of Mary Immaculate, Kootenay Shambhala Meditation Centre, Nelson United Church, St. Saviour’s Anglican Church, and Yasodhara Ashram.
Last fall, a large group of more than 75 people participated in discussions of Pope Francis’ climate change Encyclical, Laudato Si’. Currently, we are working on plans to join other local groups and institutions in creating a plan to get to zero-carbon use in the Nelson area. There is a huge opportunity for us, especially here in the Nelson area, to get to 100 per cent renewable energy use by 2050 at the very latest; in fact, some of us believe we can get there much sooner!
A common complaint leveled against religious leaders who comment on issues like climate justice is that we are told that religion has no place in political discourse. As a religious leader in the Nelson area, I can categorically tell you that spiritual leaders have a moral imperative to speak out for a holistic view of the world in which we live.
As has been demonstrated in the past five years, religious leaders around the world from all faith traditions have called loudly for action with respect to climate justice. Almost every major world religion has issued a call to action with respect to getting off fossil fuels and keeping the global temperature increase to less than 2 degrees by the end of this century.
The most recent call for action from spiritual leaders came ahead of the Paris Agreement signing ceremony at the United Nations on April 22. Two hundred and fifty world faith leaders called for heads of state to ratify the Paris Agreement. In a show of unity and support, 175 countries have signed the Paris Agreement, including our own prime minister, and 15 have already ratified the agreement.
The document signed by world faith leaders on April 18 said in part that “Humanity is at a crucial turning point. We as faith communities recognize that we must begin a transition away from polluting fossil fuels and towards clean renewable energy sources. It is clear that for many people significant lifestyle changes will have to be made. We must strive for alternatives to the culture of consumerism that is so destructive to ourselves and to our planet.” (See this link for the full statement.)
According to the World Bank, Canada is one of the worst emitters of carbon pollution per capita. We emit 14.7 tonnes per person per year. Canadians have traditionally taken a keen interest in international justice and Canada has been a good partner to many nations. Addressing and reducing our carbon pollution is key to continuing to be a just society. Getting to a zero-carbon future is being a good neighbour.
As a Nelson and area interfaith community, we are committed to a future where human societies live in an integrated manner with the earth. As human beings, we can draw on renewable energy resources that are not damaging to ecosystems and do not comprise the earth’s capacity for life.
We can get to 100 per cent renewable energy use and we can do it soon. We can all stand together; I invite you to pay attention for announcements regarding local and national strategies coming from our interfaith community and other activist groups both locally and nationally. The time for action is now.
Rev. David Boyd is with the Nelson United Church.