Nineteen of the world’s most senior Buddhists have issued a landmark statement to political leaders to adopt an effective climate change agreement at the UN negotiations in Paris starting November 30.
Buddhist Climate Change Statement to World Leaders We, the undersigned Buddhist leaders come together prior to the 21st Session of the Conference of Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, to add our voices to the growing calls for world leaders to cooperate with compassion and wisdom to reach an ambitious and effective climate agreement.
We are at a crucial crossroads where our survival and that of other species is at stake as a result of our actions. There is still time to slow the pace of climate change and limit its impacts, but to do so, the Paris summit will need to put us on a path to phase out fossil fuels, and ensure the protection of the most vulnerable, through visionary and comprehensive mitigation and adaptation measures. The basis of our concern is founded on the Buddha’s central concept of the dependent co-arising of all things; which condition each other in universal interconnectedness for the benefit or harm of all life. Understanding this interconnected causality and the consequences of our actions is a critical step in reducing our environmental impact, as is cultivating insight of inter-being and compassion. Buddhist leaders have been speaking about this for decades.
However, everyday life can easily lead us to forget that our lives are inextricably interwoven with the natural world – through every breath we take, the water we drink and the food we eat. Through our mindlessness, we are destroying the very life support systems that we, and all other living beings depend on for survival. We believe it is imperative that the global Buddhist community in particular, recognises both our dependence on one another and the natural world.
Together, all people of faith and none, must act on the root causes of this environment crisis that is driven by our use of fossil fuels, unsustainable consumption patterns, lack of awareness and our undue concern about the consequences of our actions. We strongly support the “The Time to Act is Now: A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change,” endorsed by a diverse and global representation of Buddhist leaders and Buddhist sangha’s. We welcome and support the climate change statements of other religious traditions.
These include more recently this year, Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change, as well as the upcoming Hindu Declaration on Climate Change. We are united by our concern to phase out fossil fuels, to reduce our consumption patterns and the ethical imperative to act against both the causes and the impacts of climate change, especially on the world’s poorest.
To this end, we urge world leaders to generate the political will needed to close the emissions gap left by country climate pledges to ensure that the global temperature increase remains below 1.5 degree Celsius, relative to pre-industrial levels.
We also ask for a common commitment to scale up climate finance, so as to help developing countries prepare for climate impacts, and to help us all to transition to a safe, low carbon future. The good news is that there is a unique opportunity at the Paris climate negotiations to create a turning point. Scientists assure us that limiting the rise in the global average temperature to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, is technologically and economically feasible. Phasing out fossil fuels and moving toward 100 percent renewable and clean energy, will not only spur a global, low-carbon transformation, it will also help us to embark on a much needed path of spiritual renewal. In addition to our spiritual progression, in line with UN recommendations, some of the most effective actions individuals can take is to protect our forests, move toward a plant-based diet, lower consumption, recycle, switch to renewables, fly less and take public transport.
All of us can make a difference. We call on world leaders to recognise and address our universal responsibility to protect the web of life for the benefit of all, now and for the future. For These Reasons, We Call On All Parties in Paris: 1. To be guided by the moral dimensions of climate change as indicated in Article 3 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 2. To agree to phase out fossil fuels and move towards 100 percent renewables and clean energy 3.
To create the political will to close the emissions gap left by country climate pledges to ensure that the global temperature increase remains below 1.5 degree Celsius, relative to preindustrial levels. 4. To make a common commitment to scale up finance above the $100 billion pledged in Copenhagen in 2009, including through the Green Climate Fund (GCF), to help vulnerable developing countries prepare for climate impacts and transition towards a lowcarbon economy.