Faith leaders mix with royalty near London to push climate issue

By on November 2, 2009

More than 250 leaders from the world’s majorreligious faiths are meeting at Windsor Castle, near London, for a three-day conference aimed at alerting the world’s politicians of the need to put climate change at the top of the global agenda.”Without the full support and co-operation of religious leaders, it will be very difficult to create a political climate conducive in agreeing a balanced, harmonious and equitable and binding agreement at Copenhagen next month,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a BBC radio interview on November 1.The November 2-4 conference will be attended by Britain’s Prince Philip, the founder of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (www.arcworld.org), and who is the husband of Queen Elizabeth II. The U.N’s Ban is to make a keynote speech there on 3 November, in which he will call on world leaders to take greater notice of what religious leaders have to say about climate change.”The original approach from the United Nations to ARC was because the U.N. looked at the debates around climate change – particularly the plans for Copenhagen – and despaired,” ARC’s general secretary, Martin Palmer said in an interview with Ecumenical News International. “The old assumptions that religion was something private, that the nation state was the main way that decisions would be made is crumbling and crumbling fast.”Leaders from nine major faiths – Baha’ism, Buddhism, Christianity, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Shintoism and Sikhism – say they are advancing plans to lessen the impact of global warming by advising their followers to take practical steps to reduce gas emissions.Supported by the United National Development Programme and major secular bodies the conference is being attended by key religious leaders including the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev. Samuel Kobia, Sheikh Ali Goma’a, the grand mufti of Egypt and Master Huang Xinyang, vice president of the China Daoist Association, organizers said.ARC is a secular body that helps the world’s major religions develop environmental programmes, based on their own core teachings and practices. The UNDP works in partnership with ARC and the faith leaders have been asked to consider how they could develop long-term commitments for a Living Planet that would shape the behaviour and outlook of their followers for generations to come.”Most people around the world adhere to a religion – the faiths reach out to 85 percent of the world’s 6.79 billion people,” said ARC spokesperson, Victoria Finlay.As an example of a faith-based involvement in getting the climate message across, the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland, said on November 2 that it has decided to employ a climate change officer for three years. In a statement the church noted that in Perthshire in the east of Scotland, parts of a refurbished church are being made out of old boots, yoghurt pots and mobile phones. And on one of Scotland’s most northerly islands, Papa Westray, a pastor is powering his car by recycled chip fat oil from his local take-away fried food outlet.

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