Accessibility Tools

Skip to main content

David Hales Addresses the Climate Assembly

David Hales addressed the Climate Action I Assembly at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, USA.

August 14, 2023 (Transcript) – We are in a battle for the sustainability of our planet and for the souls of our children. The past two months have been the two warmest months in the history of the human race. In July, 8,000 temporary or temperature records were broken in the United States alone. 

Devastating wildfires have occurred in more than 20 nations. Summer in the southern hemisphere is yet to come. As are the effects of a strong El Nino on a climate-changed world, the ocean has never been warmer, the Arctic and the Antarctic have changed, perhaps irreparably. 

Climate change affects almost every relationship. Those that provide stability to natural ecosystems and those which affect how we treat each other, the political and the economic systems, the distribution of wealth and our rights as humans. 

But you know all of this, don’t you? Nothing I said was news to you. You see it in every newspaper. You see it on television stations daily. What really matters is what that means to you. You have lived and you are living through the transition of our parents’ world to a less predictable world where climate disasters have already begun to be the new normal. 

It will get worse before it could possibly get better. 

We have chosen this world with our choices and actions, with our greed and selfishness, and ignorance. We have sold our birthrights for the trinkets and convenience of consumerism. The luxuries of the wealthy and the privileged have taken necessities from the poor and the powerless.

And yet this is a convening of hope. It is a convening of hope for just as we have chosen today, we can choose a difference for tomorrow. That is worth welcoming and it’s time to shift now to those hopes.

So what can we do? In the 90 or so programs that are part of the climate track, there are seeds of hope. People who are accomplishing, people who are learning lessons, people who deserve to be celebrated, including all of you. And I hope from those 90 programs, we will see a flourishing reality. And those are nested in the programs of the rest of the convening, which are also rooted in justice and in hope and in human rights.

We can succeed because we just passed another tipping point, as the introductory film said. Climate denial is no longer possible for anyone of good faith and common sense. It is impossible. Our fossil fuel-based economy has passed its peak. Investments in renewable energy are now almost double new investments in oil and gas, year by year. And renewable energy will become less expensive, more available, and more reliable. And the market choice will inevitably drive fossil fuel off the market. So let’s say clearly that there is no need anywhere in any nation for there to be more discovery of oil and gas.

We already have all we need. We could never burn what we have. If we do, this planet will be a cinder. And the time for all oil and gas exploration to end is today.

If COP28 does not say that as clearly as I just did, then COP28 will be a failure. We also have to commit to phasing out the production and use of fossil fuels, the reserves of which we already have. And it should be on a schedule determined by the needs of our planet, not the greed of the rich.

And it’s also time to end the election to public office of anyone who denies the reality of human -caused climate change.

The root of such denial is ignorance, or corruption, or cowardice, or a mixture of the three. And there is no reason for us to accept ignorance, corruption, and cowardice in our public officials.

We must demand honesty, and courage, and common sense. 

The emergence of climate emergencies also begs us to consider our relationships to one another. And that, of course, is the foundational theme of this gathering, defending freedom and human rights. At the core of all human rights is a healthy environment.

Clean air, clean water, productive land, and healthy life, not just humans, but healthy life. Four simple standards for our actions. You will make water dirty, don’t do it. If what you do will make land less productive, don’t do it. If what you do takes life away from another creature on this planet, don’t do it.

We will gather again, we will gather again on Friday in the Climate Assembly, to commit ourselves to actions, to inspire and to support each other, and to celebrate what we can do to make this a better world.

Latest Videos