Lower religious activists and high-level religious leaders issue ten claims and condemn the insufficient progress of governments and financial institutions. On March 11th, through more than 400 base actions in 45 countries and with the support of over 250 high-level religious leaders, thousands of religious people have requested political and financial leaders to comply with a series of ambitious claims at the COP26. This base multireligious climate action session, co-sponsored by more than 120 religious groups representing over 100 million members, sent a clear message: world leaders are not doing enough to adress the climate crisis.
Support actions in addition to these claims took place in 45 countries, among them, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the U.S.A, France, Indonesia, India, Kenya, Nigeria, the U.K., South Africa and Vanuatu.
Over 250 religious leaders publicly supported the claims after their release, including Vatican cardinal Peter Turkson, buddhist writer Joanna Macy, Muslim-American scholar Imam Zaid Shakir, general secretary of the African Counsel of Religious Leaders Dr Francis Kuria, former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Dr Azza Karam and rabine David Rosen, general secretary and deputy president of Religions for Peace respectively, and president of Parmarth Niketan Swami Chidanad Saraswati. Revindications and actions are coordinated by Green Faith International Network, a popular and multireligious alliance.
“No religious tradition promotes the destruction of nature”, stated lay catholic leader Thea Ormerod, founder of the multireligious organisation Australian Religious Response to Climate Change and founder partner of the Network. “However, this is excactly what governments, financial institutions and big companies are doing. Our beliefs push us to leave our churches, mosques and temples, fill the streets and get our voices heard.”
The declaration calls for governments and banks to immediately stop supporting the new infrastructures of fossil fuels and tropical deforestation, to commit themselves with universal access to clean and affordable energy, to promote politics that create environmentally-friendly jobs and a fair transition of workers and affected communities, to guarantee policies and funding which support those forced to migrate owing to climate impact, and more.
The members of the GreenFaith International Network pointed out that, while the COVID-19 pandemics has costed their jobs and health to millions of people, the industry of fossil fuels has secured itself millions of dollars in funding for emergency rescue, at the same time it has exerted pressure to weaken the climate and environmental protections. In addition, during 2020, in Brazil, Congo and Indonesia, where most tropical rainforests can be found worldwide, governments have paved the way for accelerating the cutting off of trees by farming industries.
“After decades of knowing how serious this problem is, this gap between what is needed and what is actually happening is morally reprehensible,” stated Arianne va Andel, coordinator of Chilean Interreligious and Spiritual Alliance for Climate. “The development of fossil fuels and deforestation keep increasing. Indigenous people and environmental activists face violence when they stand up for what is right, while governments and companies look aside.”
Planners of the action sessions announced their intention of further building a multireligious and popular movement and of pushing governments and financial institutions to comply, at COP26 and beyond. The extent of the base movilisation, combined with the clarity and honesty of political and financial claims, along with the direct challenges to anti-climate religious groups, represent an escalation and intensification of religious action over climate change.
“Religious extremist worldwide support authoritarian governments and extractive companies that are destroying the planet,” said Fletcher Harper, executive director of GreenFaith. “There is no ethics in these fundamentalist religious groups’ doing. People of base faith are raising everywhere to claim back our religions.”