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A New IPCC Report Is Out. It’s Bad News. We Can Either Wallow or Get to Work

A new IPCC Report confirms what many have long suspected. Even if the world implements dramatic climate mitigations now, slashing global emissions, we would still exceed the 1.5 degree Celsius target set by the Paris Accord. That target is meant to stave off the worst effects of climate change. A hotter world is now essentially unavoidable. This report is devastating. Nobody can deny that. We should all take a moment to feel whatever we need to feel – sadness, grief, frustration, anger, or loss. Take a deep breath.

And then let’s get to work. Because the inevitability of a 1.5 degree plus world is just the beginning of the story. There are still many things we can do to protect our climate and planet. What we do now will determine how much warming occurs, and what kind of future we leave to our children. We are only just beginning to implement several important climate mitigation strategies. Many of them would remove or avoid massive amounts of greenhouse gases. Two important strategies are the continued deployment of renewable energy technologies and nature-based solutions.

The US nearly doubled wind and solar capacity in 2020 despite the pandemic. And new science demonstrates that nature-based solutions, including the conservation, restoration and management of forests, grasslands and wetlands, can reduce emissions by one third. Fortunately, Faith-Based Organizations are making great strides in these two areas. And they are well positioned to have an exponentially greater impact in the future.

Faith Communities are vital partners in mitigating climate change. In Faith Action on the SDGs: Progress and Outlook, a report released last year by Parliament of the World’s Religions, UN Environment’s Faith for Earth Initiative, United Religions Initiative, and Bhumi Global, we outlined dozens of examples of Faith-Based organizations deploying renewables and conserving fragile ecosystems. These efforts will help meet the SDGs and mitigate climate change through greenhouse gas avoidance and sequestration.

Staving off the worst effects of climate change is still possible. It will require a ‘Whole of Society’ approach and the SDGs are our best tool for rallying global stakeholders, including Faith-Based actors.

On September 2nd we will launch a long-term project based on the Faith Action on the SDGs report.