Friday, August 29, 2014

U.S. Must Take Leadership in UN Climate Negotiations

God has called us to be good stewards of the Earth and care for all of God’s creation, but carbon pollution from our favorite form of energy is fundamentally altering our climate. Together with our ecumenical and interreligious partners, the PC(USA) is calling on political leaders in the U.S. to address issue of climate change and to engage with the international community in coming up with a sustainable response. Join your voice with others as we call on U.S. leaders to take on leadership in helping to craft a moral global framework for the UN climate negotiations.

There are three important UN climate meetings in our sights, with the final negotiation for a new international treaty taking place in 2015 in Paris, France. But the next meeting will be next month in September 2014, in New York at the United Nations.  The faith community is mobilizing around this event – the first major international climate meeting on U.S. soil. See below to find out how to get involved.

U.S. policymakers need to take a lead role during the United Nations climate treaty negotiations. Reducing carbon emissions is vital to preventing devastating  impacts of climate change and to providing meaningful support for vulnerable communities. With the UN Climate Summit taking place in just a few weeks’ time – in September in New York, now is the time to let both President Obama and Congress know that we need a strong treaty that requires all nations to take steps to control greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to the petition for lawmakers, we affirm our own ability to make a difference through our own choices and actions. We are joining with ecumenical partners to collect individual pledges for action as a way to demonstrate our commitment to address climate change to our political leaders. Pledges for action can range from changing a light bulb to installing solar panels on your church roof, from hosting a climate vigil to preaching a sermon. Pledges for action will be highlighted during several faith events in New York in September.                    

As people of faith, we care for all of God’s creation with a special concern for vulnerable populations. Presbyterians have acknowledged the burden of climate change and environmental injustice, which first and foremost falls on those who are least equipped to handle it. The 218th General Assembly (2008) presented a policy recommendation on climate change that emphasized a commitment to stand with “the least of these.” The 219th General Assembly (2010) also approved an overture that affirmed “concern for God’s creation is, for every Christian, an essential way of living faithfully.”

Together, let us respond to the challenge of climate change with compassion; standing in solidarity with our neighbors living in or near poverty who are most severely affected by the changing climate, and striving to preserve God’s “good” Creation.

As the next UN event approaches next month, there are many things that you can do to join in the movement.  Sing the petition and make a pledge in addition to the following:

1.        Promote the faith component of the People’s Climate March, held at 11:30 Sunday, September 21, in New York. There will be a religious gathering and service approximately 1 hour prior to the march.

a.        If you live in the New York area, help provide housing for those coming to the event. Sign up here to provide housing around the People’s Climate March.

b.        Ring you own church bells in solidarity with those marching in New York. Ring time: Sept. 21, 1:00pm in whatever time zone you are located.

2.        Sign the petition urging President Obama and the Senate to work towards a strong UN climate treaty.

4.        Host a prayer vigil or feature a prayer on climate in your church on the days preceding and following the UN Climate Summit. The ecumenical advocacy community in DC, for instance, will hold a worship service focused on climate change on Sept. 17 at 12:10pm, at the Methodist Building in Washington, DC. Click here to let folks know about your prayer service or event.


People’s Climate March: Sunday, September 21, 11:30pm, Manhattan, NY, NY. The march will start at Columbus Circle, go east on 59th Street to 6th Ave; south on 6th Ave. to 42nd Street; west on 42nd Street to 11th Ave.; then south on 11th Ave. to 34th Street (near the Javits Center). A Muslim group will be holding their Dhuhr prayer from 12:50-1:00 pm – right during the March. At 1:00 pm, houses of worship around NYC will ring bells, sound shofars, chant mantras, and make other outdoor spiritual sounds in a sign of solidarity with the March – as part of a Global Climate Chorus.

Union Theological Seminary conference: Religions for the Earth, September 19-21 (invitation only)

World Council of Churches Climate Summit: September 21-22 (note that many of the sessions during this summit are open)

Interfaith Observance: Sunday, September 21, St. John the Divine (open invitation)