Stand Up for the Earth: Affirm the Paris Agreement

The Temple of Understanding, one of the oldest interfaith organizations in North America, stands with our many partners, the Parliament of World Religions, faith leaders of all traditions, corporations, universities and concerned citizens in condemning President’s Trump’s unconscionable action pulling out of the Paris Agreement.  We will continue to work towards a sustainable future in our towns and cities regardless of the lack of support from our misinformed US government leadership. 

Show your support for the Paris Agreement and Climate Action >>


In a recent sermon entitled “Defiant Hope,” Rev. Dr. Jim Antal of the United Church of Christ urged his listeners to speak up about climate issues:

Defiant hope believes that we are called by God to change what appears to be inevitable, and that God has given us everything we need to engage. […] So our first task is to end this silence. And it turns out that the biggest predictor of people’s willingness to take action to defend creation is whether they are in regular contact with others who believe and act like them. In other words, by breaking our silence and sharing our views and values with others, we will empower one another to take action.

And this is where church comes in. Looking back, slavery would not have ended if it hadn’t have been for church. And just as the church responded to God’s call over 200 years ago, God is calling the church of today to defend God’s gift of creation. Humanity will not make the changes science says we must unless the church becomes a center for conversation, discernment, support and action.


From the Parliament of the World’s Religions Statement:

The Parliament of the World’s Religions condemns in the strongest possible terms the President’s decision to renege on the commitment of the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement, a pact signed by 195 nations and formally ratified by 147 nations.

The decision is wrong from every relevant perspective:

  • Scientifically, it is unsound and indefensible.

  • Economically, it undermines the ability of the United States to build a competitive economy for the future, sacrificing US jobs at almost every level of production and service, sacrificing American competitiveness in every market.

  • Medically, it condemns hundreds of thousands to unnecessary sickness and premature death.

  • Politically, it undermines the United States’ credibility and trustworthiness with its strongest allies as well as its fiercest competitors, and thus strikes a self-inflicted blow against national security.

Our condemnation of this decision is based on our conviction that the decision is wrong, but not just in the sense that it is incorrect. This decision is wrong in the sense that it is evil—it will result in devastation to life on Earth for generations to come. Its global consequences and impact on every living being on the planet makes it fundamentally immoral.


From the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Statement:

The Paris Agreement remains a historic treaty signed by 195 Parties and ratified by 146 countries plus the European Union. […]

The Paris Agreement is aimed at reducing risk to economies and lives everywhere, while building the foundation for a more prosperous, secure and sustainable world. It enjoys profound credibility, as it was forged by all nations and is supported by a growing wave of business, investors, cities, states, regions and citizens. We are committed to continue working with all governments and partners in their efforts to fast forward climate action at global and national levels.

 

Faith Groups at People’s Climate March, 4/29/17 (Photos)

Muslim environmental activists at the Washington DC People’s Climate March, 29 April 2017

 

Grove Harris represented the Temple of Understanding at the April 29 Climate March in D.C. as part of the Interfaith Groups mobilization for People’s Climate Marches. Rev. Fletcher Harper of GreenFaith led the interfaith contingent in sitting down in silence, then joining in a common heartbeat rhythm, and finally rising up in voice, as a special part of the march.

Overall, more than 200,000 gathered in Washington DC and millions joined in over 375 marches around the globe, all standing up in concern for our climate and against regressive politics. The 91 degree heat in April did not deter marchers; rather it reinforced concern.

Faith in Place: Faithful People Caring for the Earth provided reflections on the People’s Climate March.

All photos by Grove Harris.

Rev. Fletcher Harper (right) and activists leading the crowd in a group heartbeat

 

#SacredEarth2016: Sign On for Social Media Action on Climate Change, 6/12/16

Via Our Voices: Bringing Faith to the Climate Talks:

We’re just 11 days away from Sacred Earth, Sacred Trust – the day of celebration, prayer and action for the world on June 12 – and things are really starting to take off. We already know of almost 100 events taking place around the world in 30 countries!

I’m getting in touch to ask if you and your organisation would be willing to lend your support to Sacred Earth by joining the Thunderclap and helping spread the message to millions around the world.

Click here to support the Sacred Earth 2016 Thunderclap

If you sign up to the Thunderclap, on June 12 we will all post this one-time message simultaneously: “Millions of people need 1.5°C to stay alive. Today, faiths around the world say protect our #SacredEarth2016.”

 

We know there are millions of people in vulnerable communities who are already suffering from the effects of climate change. It is for them that we must share our message far and loud, calling on world leaders to commit to a 1.5 degree limit on global temperature rise.

Whether it’s Facebook or Twitter, you have a community online who listen to you. Support the Sacred Earth Thunderclap today

And if you don’t have a social media account, there are still endless number of ways to take part in Sacred Earth on the website here: http://sacredearth2016.org/

 

Thunderclap-banner-Sacred-Earth

 

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Thank you for your commitment to creating a better world for us all!

With positive light,
Sean & the OurVoices team

Interfaith Climate Statement Launch in New York

From Rosanne Skirble at Voice of America:

Religious leaders came together in prayer Monday at the chapel of the Church Center for the United Nations to affirm the sanctity of the Earth. In a joint statement, they urged heads of state to ratify and implement the Paris climate change agreement negotiated in December.

Read more at Voice of America >>

Comments on the 2015 Paris Climate Talks

While the outcome of the climate talks in Paris are considered generally successful, there’s some dismay among the NGOs about overly positive agreements which wash over some serious critiques. For instance, there is a lack of human rights and gender equality in the framing of the agreements. While governments have in some cases moved in the right direction,  it’s not the full turn around that is needed.  We have not heard anything about ending subsidies to fossil fuels explicitly although that may be included. Even though New York is now seen as the role model for banning fracking, most places are still investing in this practice. We suggest you read the following articles for more information.

Why should we feel positive about Paris? 

Grand Promises of Paris Climate Deal

A short film: Faith Against Fracking

Religions for the Earth Conference

We are proud that Grove Harris, our representative to the United Nations, has been invited to particpate in the Religions for the Earth conference at Union Theological Seminary. “The conference is designed to spur a conversation about climate change as a social justice issue, to put forth the moral imperative to care for the natural world, and to help shape and accelerate actions in support of an effective international climate treaty.”

Nuclear Power Is NOT the Answer to Climate Change

Please join us for Nuclear Power is NOT the answer to Climate Change, September 15, Monday, 10AM – noon  at the Church Center for the United Nations, 777 UN Plaza, 2nd Fl., New York, NY 10017 (44th St. & First Ave).

The TOU is proud to co-sponsor this event with Peace Boat US, Human Rights Now, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Nuclear Information and Resources Service, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, and Abolition 2000 NY.

Reflections on the Commission on Sustainable Development

Report by Joan Kirby, Representative to the United Nations

The Final Earth Negotiation Bulletin, CSD – 19 (Monday 16 May 2011) reports the failure of the latest Commission on Sustainable Development. It cites numerous causes of the disaster – overemphasis on the environment to the exclusion of social and economic concerns, the absence of finance ministers who are replaced by environmentalists representing governments, the absence of enforcement conditions for CSD -17, and, above all, a politicized debating format leading to language refinement but not to action.

Despite considerable consensus on every item, the governments declined to endorse the Chairman’s text leaving the road to Rio 2012 full of holes and pitfalls.

The problems were technical and structural but at the heart of the failure I find the familiar inability to heal the division between the developed and developing states – not only different but disruptive values and expectations separate them. The divisive issue of developmental rights has prevailed for 20 years. The developing world (the south) claims its right to develop resources without restrictions in order to emerge from poverty, while placing strong emphasis on the responsibility of the developed world to provide adaptation and mitigation of the effects of the industrial age.

Meanwhile the developed world (the north) demands collaboration and shared financing from the south to repair the damage to the earth. These differing expectations and values interrupt common accord and progress appears to be impossible.

A holistic ethical vision for the earth is absent. That we are not separate, that we are one earth has not been sufficiently articulated in our ethical philosophy or by religions.

Carl Safina, in The View from Lazy Point (2011), reminds us that migrations of birds and fishes take us from the Arctic to Antarctica and across the tropics from the Caribbean to the West Pacific. There is only one Earth and we live on it. On this delicate piece of the universe our life survives and our challenge is to nurture and to share it with generations to come. The world is brimming with vitality but it is changing dramatically as it receives a human imprint that often enough destroys the wise pattern of nature.

Safina holds that we are running our world with ancient and medieval ideas; our philosophy, ethics, religion, and economics were all devised many centuries ago. They lack the ability to incorporate what we have learned about how life operates. “All life is related by lineage, by flows of energy, and by cycles of water, carbon, nitrogen; resources are finite and creatures fragile. The institutions haven’t adjusted to the new realization that we can push the planet’s systems into dysfunction”.

What we need is an ethical rebirth. “The geometry of human progress is an expanding circle of compassion, and, if the word “sacred” means anything at all – the world exists as the one truly sacred place”. Someday, the enormity of what we are risking will dawn on government decision makers. So far, it hasn’t penetrated politics. Environmental policy will need to accommodate the needs of people from developing and developed countries – and will have to be based on decisions and actions of a vast number of stakeholders and not just the nation states that have traditionally dominated environmental diplomacy.

In collaboration with the United Nations UNDP, UNEP, FAO, CoNGO Committee on Sustainable Development and the Religious NGOs, the Temple of Understanding attended the United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change in Cancun in December 2010. Click here to read our position paper.

2011 Is the International Year of Forests

From the UNEP site:

“Forests cover one third of the earth’s land mass, performing vital functions around the world. In fact, 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. They play a key role in our battle against climate change. Forests feed our rivers and are essential to supplying the water for nearly 50% of our largest cities, including New York, Jakarta and Caracas. They help to regulate the often devastating impact of storms and floods.

Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than half of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. Forests also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent populations.

Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, we are destroying the very forests we need to survive. Global deforestation continues at an alarming rate — 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually, equal to the size of Portugal.

But it’s not too late to transform business as usual into a future where forests are at the heart of our sustainable development and green economies. An investment of US$30 billion fighting deforestation could provide a return of US$2.5 trillion in saved products and services. Furthermore, targeted investments in forestry could generate up to millions of jobs around the world. Already, many leaders are glimpsing the potential for renewable energy and nature-based assets, but for forest transformation to happen, forests need to become a universal political priority.”

Click for more information >>