Pope Francis Calls for Moral Action on Climate Change
On June 18, 2015, the Vatican released Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change Laudato Si (full text available here). Several friends and leaders of the NRCCC have written a series of opinion pieces on this powerful call to climate action. Here are their op-eds:
The Religious Imperative to Address Climate
A pressing and immediate moral issue for religious communities to address is anthropogenic climate change. Below are statements by religious bodies and individuals: (please note some files are PDF) For articles and commentary on Climate issues, go to the Climate News Page.
The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States: and Why the U.S. Mental Health System is Not Adequately Prepared
A Religious Campaign for Clean Energy/Water
The NRCCC has initiated a pilot program to demonstrate the ability of religious organizations to promote the use of clean renewable sources of energy.
This campaign has already begun in three states with populations receptive to environmental policy – Maryland, North Carolina and Connecticut. Underneath this campaign is the premise that climate change is a moral issue. As religious groups teach the seriousness of climate change, it follows that they must begin to provide solutions through clean energy usage.
Across America there are roughly 350,000 churches, temples and houses of worship plus numerous schools, convents, monasteries, hostels and other facilities, most of which use now rely on dirty forms of energy. The strategy in this campaign is to enlist religious leaders and activists who oversee coalitions concerned about climate change or some aspect of environmental justice and encourage them to promote and demonstrate the value of using clean energy. They will also encourage religious examples of clean energy, and encourage state and national policies that support clean renewable energy. This fits neatly into religious organizations because our national ability to address climate change requires a change of heart and behavior in both individuals and society. By invoking moral and ethical reasons for using clean energy, religious organizations can provide leadership in the challenge to change in the way America fuels its society. The first campaigns are now underway.
The Connecticut Campaign
In Connecticut Rev. Tom Carr and the Interfaith Ecojustice Network initiated their activities with an enthusiastic gathering of over 200 clergy and concerned laity at the Hartford Theological Seminary on November 7, 2013. Many regional religious leaders participated. Together they produced “The Hartford Declaration,” which calls for action on climate change by all of Connecticut’s religious organizatons.
The authors of this statement declare that a time comes in every generation when citizens must respond to the urgent moral issues that face society. For us, they declare, “That pivotal moment has arrived. We can no longer ignore the plain facts of climate change.”
“Earth is increasingly under threat from climate change and global warming,” they declare. This is “endangering human beings and other life-forms in all regions of the globe. As a result, recent storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and heat waves have begun to have serious impact on our lives. Continuing increases of these extreme events threatens to destroy the underlying basis of human civilization as we know it.” ...
They conclude their statement. “Given the urgency of the current situation, we solemnly pledge to: foster a reflective and prayerful response to... global climate change; live sustainably; encourage people of faith to ... use safe, clean, renewable energy; witness for action on climate change... in the public sphere; and advocate for local, state, national and international policies” and... “enable a swift transition from dependence on fossil fuels to safe, clean, renewable energy.”
Next, they plan to take this Hartford Declaration to every house of worship in the state.
The Maryland-DC Campaign
A similar process is beginning in the State of Maryland. Dr. Lise Van Susteren, MD, founder of the Interfaith Moral Action on Climate network (IMAC), has already mobilized a collection of religious and climate change activists to initiate a statewide campaign. The first goal is to awaken Maryland people of faith to the need for lifestyle change and the adoption of clean energy in order to address climate change.
On Saturday, December 7th, 2013 a dozen leaders gathered in the offices of the Chesapeake Climate Network in Takoma Park to develop a plan that will promote clean energy. Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action group and an active member of the Presbyterian Church USA, hosted and chaired the meeting. Representatives from a variety of religious and climate action groups attended. These included Interfaith Power and Light for the DC area; the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life; the environmental committee for Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Church; the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers); the Unitarian Universalist Association; the United Methodist Church; and The Sierra Club.
This emerging coalition set goals of reaching all of the Houses of Worship in Maryland, Washington, DC and Northern Maryland; bringing them into awareness of the seriousness of the climate problem; and teaching the need to embrace practical solutions, the most obvious of which involves the use of clean renewable energy.
The North Carolina Campaign
Taking a slightly different approach in North Carolina, the NRCCC sponsored the North Carolina Conference on Religion and Climate Chnage in partnership with ten local organizations including local branches of 350.org, Citizens Climate Lobby, Triangle Interfaith Alliance, the Interfaith Moral Action on Climate, Applichian Voices, and the Franciscan Action Network. The innagural conference was hosted at the Chruch of the Good Shephard in Raleigh North Carolina on October 12, 2014. At the end of the conference, attendess created a pledge and declaration for all people of faith in North Carolina to act on climate change.
For the future other states will develop their own Religious Campaigns for Clean Energy. Dialogue is now taking place to identify those next states.