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Religious leaders from around the world have issued a strong call to climate action a few days before the signing of the Paris Climate Change Agreement on 22 April in New York.

The Interfaith Climate Change Statement to World Leaders was delivered to Mogens Lykketoft, President of the UN General Assembly on 18 April at a special inter-faith cermony in New York.

The statement was signed by 270 high level religious leaders, close to 5,000 individuals and 176 religious groups. In the statement, the signatories:

  • Urge governments to rapidly sign, ratify and implement the Paris Agreement, and to increase pledges to reduce emissions in line with keeping the global temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels;
  • Insist on rapid emissions reduction and peaking by 2020, in order to keep the 1.5C limit within reach;
  • Strongly advocate the greater flows of finance, especially for adaptation and loss and damage;
  • Urge the swift phase out of all fossil fuel subsidies and transition from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy by 2050;
  • Encourage faith communities to reduce emissions in their homes, workplaces and centres of worship and to support and stand in solidarity with communities already impacted by climate change;
  • Call for fossil fuel divestment and reinvestment in renewables and low carbon solutions, including within our own communities, and/or by engaging companies on climate change.

At the multi-faith ceremony, UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft said: “This and other religious initiatives demonstrate that climate change is now firmly accepted as a moral issue. The Statement shows how religions can be a catalyst for common action. You are telling your followers that you recognize the seriousness of climate change, its impacts on the vitality of the planet and the wellbeing of humanity. You are demanding action to be taken now. “

“Most of the action will have to come from individuals. The faith community is part of the broader Civil Society movement and plays an absolutely critical role in reaching out to followers to change their behavior and demand smart policies. An initiative like this makes me confident that we can and will succeed.“

Halldor Thorgeirsson, Director of Strategy at the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change said: “I am very encouraged at the strong expression of support.  Your Statement shows that you understand that avoiding dangerous climate change requires fundamental economic transformation, not fine tuning of existing systems, leading to deep and later full decarbonisation of the energy supply. This transition will bring multiple other benefits and open huge opportunities. So the moral and economic imperatives are fully aligned in this case.” 

“150 nations will sign the Paris Agreement on Friday and entry into force is likely next year. We won´t achieve its goals without the massive mobilization of all actors of society. There is need for a deep moral motivation for change - religion can continue to be a powerful part of the solution. This challenge has injected a new urgency into the dialogue between religions.”

See a full set of images of the event on Flickr, including the image at the top of story, here.

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