Climate Action 2021
As a result of the experience of real people in real places, new scientific studies, and the collection of hard data during 2020, we now know more than we have ever known before about the state of Earth’s climate, and we know it with greater certainty.
Human experience and overwhelming scientific evidence reinforce the conviction of the Parliament of the World’s Religions that the reality and basic causes of climate change are settled science. We are convinced that the evidence for the danger posed by human-caused climate change is irrefutable and that the danger is growing rapidly.
We are also convinced that 2021 will bring new opportunities for action to meet the climate challenges we face.
We have chosen the world in which we live in 2021 with our decisions and our behavior. Unless we choose differently and behave more wisely, the world will not change for the better. For all persons of good faith and good will, 2021 must be a year of action to reduce human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare for and address the inescapable consequences of the changes we have already imposed upon our planet.
Climate change affects all of us. It is a sobering fact that climate change will affect every human born in the 21st century and beyond. Our decisions and actions in 2021 will shape the conditions for existence, including for humans, on our planet for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, the wicked truth about climate change is that while it affects everyone, it does not affect us equally. We may all be in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat
Each day we live, we take from and give back to the world around us. We can choose what we take and what we give back. All too often, what we give back is laden with poisons and destructive consequences, shaped more by our ignorance or greed than by knowledge or wisdom. Our ignorance, however, is a voluntary misfortune.
Living in our times means that we are to be judged not by our intentions, but by the consequences of our actions. We are the first generation of humans to have the knowledge, technology, and wealth to create societies that are sustainable and just. With that opportunity comes responsibility. To realize our opportunity, we have to choose responsibility — not just say we choose it — but commit to developing the capacity — at every level — to understand the material, physical, and moral consequences of the choices we make.
From a scientific perspective, we have a growing capacity to comprehend the full consequence of our choices. From an economic perspective, we can no longer say we cannot afford sustainability, and we can clearly see that unsustainable choices lead to impoverishment, ecological disaster, and moral bankruptcy. For the rest of our lives, neither the perspective of faith nor of science will allow us to claim innocence about the consequences of our actions.
Our choices will determine the future of our planet. Therein lies the hope and the danger of this time in the history of the world – this is the reality of living in the Anthropocene. Era, in which we have altered the biology of the planet and thus its future. Reconciling our existence with the wellbeing of all starts with acknowledging the patterns of behavior individually and societally that are inconsistent with our values. Achieving reconciliation with the rest of the living world requires change. While the actions of individuals continue to impact Earth’s climate, it is now clearer than ever that it is our collective behavior that must change. No national government has yet done enough to reduce cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases. Taken together, the action commitments of the governments of the world still fall short of changing the trajectory of our planet toward widespread disaster and extensive human misery.
The engagement of the spiritual communities of the world is critical to every aspect of this challenge. We will not do what is in our hearts if we do not listen to what is in our hearts.
Our faiths call us to be warriors for the sustainability and wellbeing of our world. The challenge is enormous, but it does not have to be daunting. No one can do all that must be done, but everyone can do something. One is not responsible for what one truly cannot do alone, but all of us are responsible for what we do together. Accomplishing what is needed starts with each of us doing what we can.
The wisdom on which we must draw as we choose our futures will come from diverse traditions and insights, catalyzed by common purpose – the Wellbeing of humans, our societies, other forms of life, and Earth’s natural systems. As diverse as our cultures and traditions may be, it is even more certain that we will share the future. Faith communities can help us recognize our interdependence, see beyond our current science and knowledge to perceive meaning and wisdom, and encourage mutually reinforcing action. And there is a fearsome urgency to this challenge.
Our actions each day write the future across the face of this planet. Just as we have chosen the world in which we live today, we can choose a better world for our future. The religions, the faith traditions, and our individual spiritual experience are all necessary to making those choices wisely.
We invite all who share our concerns and values to join with us in these endeavors.
Climate Action Task Force of the Parliament of the World’s Religions
David Hales, Chair
COVID19, Climate Change, and Our Work at the CATF
The COVID19 Pandemic which broke out in December of 2019 has painfully affected us as individuals and it has altered the operations of the Climate Action Task Force, but only in minor ways. We cancelled one in-person CATF meeting, but we long ago committed to the use of virtual communications and gatherings to avoid GHG emissions.
The COVID Pandemic has stripped bare any pretention that our current approach to production and consumption is sustainable or just. It has demonstrated the interconnectedness of natural and economic systems, and the risk of anthropocentric values and decision-making. It has demonstrated that when global natural systems are damaged, human beings everywhere are among the victims. And it has demonstrated that the impacts are unequally distributed across humankind.
At the same time, the Pandemic has demonstrated that new ways of working, gathering, and cooperating are as effective and far more efficient than many of the travel and work habits that we had fallen into. It has demonstrated that human political systems are capable of rapid response – the kind of rapid response that will be necessary to meet the challenges of climate change. Finally, it has given us a glimpse of the instability inherent in a carbon-based energy economy, and the importance of a rapid and carefully managed transition to a post-carbon economy.
We see confirmation and reinforcement of our basic mission in the tragic lessons of this pandemic. We would be foolish not to emphasize these lessons, learn from them, and seek opportunity in the crisis.
The Parliament of the World’s Religions and Climate Action
The Parliament of the World’s Religions, acting with the leadership of its Climate Action Task Force, seeks to encourage and enable collective and individual action to reduce and counter the adverse impacts of human-caused climate change. The Task Force bases its mandate in the Interfaith Call to Action of October, 2015 and December, 2016, and the unanimous adoption of The Fifth Directive to the Parliament’s Global Ethic by the Toronto Convening (LINK We continue to welcome endorsement of those statements.
The Parliament is not a scientific organization. We make no claim to independent findings or insights regarding the physical state of our planet, the causes of climate change or its impacts on humans and their environments. We do assert, however, the universal responsibility for each person to be accountable for our actions.