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. 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.

For 2021, our actions will include:

Emphasizing the importance of Global Interfaith Harmony in encouraging and supporting climate action by individuals and communities, governments at all levels, religious congregations, and for-profit and not-for-profit entities to reduce and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by reforming patterns of production and consumption, decreasing reliance on fossil fuels, promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency, and promoting the sustainability of natural systems.

  • Advocating aggressive action by the National Governments, International Agencies and Financial Institutions, and Corporations and business entities in implementing and supporting the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • Promoting and supporting the transition to clean, safe and affordable renewable energy in all countries, and the realization of a post-carbon global economy with fair and affordable access to energy for all.

Enabling cooperation in adopting, fulfilling and measuring the impact of organizational and individual commitments to change. Our Climate Commitment Project will continue to be the focus of many of our actions making it possible for change-makers around the world to cooperate in a way never before possible. Climate Commitment Website Building on the consensus and partnerships which emerged from The Parliament’s Global Convening in Toronto, Canada, in November 2018, and building toward our next Convening. The Climate Action Task Force’s active partners in 2019 and 2020 include:

  • Religica
  • Center for Religions Wisdom & World Affairs, Seattle University
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • Faith for Earth Initiative
  • George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communications
  • Security and Sustainability Forum
  • Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology
  • Great Lakes Environmental Law and Policy Center
  • Vatican COVID-19 Emergency Commission, Ecology Working Group


Commit Yourself. Commit Your Community. Commit Your Leaders, and Your Media.

For up to date news on Climate Change, please visit the UN Climate Change Newsroom

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Faith for Earth: A Call for Action

Faith for Earth: A Call for Action - describes the essential, unshakeable reverence that all religions have for creation and nature, and introduces the world’s major life support systems. We hope the book will give you information and inspiration to learn more about our planet, to share your knowledge and commitment to care for it, and to become part of the flourishing global interfaith movement that is increasingly bringing people together to protect and sustain life on Earth.In the last 60 years, more than 40% of the world’s civil wars have been linked to control over natural resources such as land, oil, and water. Climate change is on track to make this situation worse, with unprecedented new impacts on the functioning ecosystems we depend upon for survival, as well as on where people can live and grow food, build cities, practice their faith, and raise their children in peace and health. The security implications of climate change are being recognized at the highest levels, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres has put it at the heart of our conflict prevention agenda.  The Secretary-General announced in April 2020 that “the global crisis we are facing today due to COVID19 pandemic is the gravest challenge since the establishment of the UN 75 years ago,” but it also remains an irrefutable fact that climate change continues to be one of the most systemic environmental threats that humankind has ever faced.We are in a race against time that will require political will, innovation, inclusion, tolerance, values and ethics, financing and partnerships. We are calling on everyone—countries, cities, the private sector, individuals, and faith-based organizations—to strengthen their actions to mitigate climate change, restore ecosystems, and protect the health of the planet without delay. The world has the scientific understanding, the technological capacity, and the financial means to do this. We need to trust our abilities and act accordingly.Our challenge is not that we do not know what to do—it is how quickly we can do it. The problem is massive, and such large and complex challenges will require transformational thinking, integration, and big movements. But it will also require progress on myriad smaller and manageable scales. We need faith-based organizations to be part of the global accountability and monitoring system to achieve the sustainable development goals, and we need a common ethical system of values no matter what religion we believe.As we begin this century’s third decade, the new edition — produced through a partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme and the Parliament of the World’s Religions Climate Action Program — offers an introduction to the magnitude of the task we now face and to the faith communities that are becoming a force for the global environmental future. It is time, as never before, to call on our faith, our values, our religious teachings and traditions – on Faith for Earth. And it is time for action.This book was first published at the beginning of the twenty-first century. A joint project of the United Nations Environment Programme and the Interfaith Partnership for the Environment, it was titled Earth and Faith: A Book of Reflection for Action.

His Highness Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi (Green Sheikh)

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