Anglicans are being urged to join the global conversation on climate change. The online campaign Our Voices: Bringing faith to the climate “is a profound invitation to people of all faiths around the world to raise their voices and add their perspectives in political discussions about climate change,” says the Rev. Canon Ken Gray, secretary and communications manager of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN).
“The Our Voices project is not an ACEN initiative, but we are seminally involved, and we are encouraging Anglicans globally to sign on,” adds Gray, rector of the Church of the Advent in Colwood, B.C., and the ecclesiastical province of Canada’s representative in the ACEN.
The campaign’s website urges people of religious faith and moral conviction “to sign and pray in their own tradition for the Paris 2015 UN Climate Summit to succeed where all past talks have failed.” Among the campaign’s global ambassadors is South Africa’s Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, chairman of the ACEN and convenor of the Eco-bishops’ Dialogue, in which some 20 Anglican bishops will meet in Cape Town in February 2015.
According to the Our Voices site, 97 per cent of the world’s climate scientists agree that human activity is causing global warming and threatening life on the planet. It is not just an environmental problem but also “a humanitarian and development emergency…already affecting vulnerable communities.” While previous climate summits have failed to achieve significant agreement, “the UN believes there is hope of global agreement in Paris 2015 if the moral call for action is so loud that politicians can’t ignore it,” the site says. The UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) will meet in Paris in November-December of 2015.
A challenge to the world’s faith communities to add a much-needed moral dimension to ecological discussions came from the FCCC’s executive director, Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica, who spoke to the St. Paul’s Institute at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London this past May.
For the year leading up to the 2015 summit, many awareness-raising and action-triggering events have been planned.
On Sept. 21, in New York City, people will assemble in the massive, “history-making” People’s Climate March. Representing more than 1,000 business, labour, faith, environmental and educational groups, the march is inviting people from all over to attend or to organize solidarity marches in their local communities. A live-streamed faith celebration will follow the march on the evening of the 21st at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
The official launch of Our Voices will be timed to the People’s Climate March, and the campaign will run to the end of this year.
The New York march is timed to put ethical pressure on political leaders as the UN’s secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, convenes a one-day leaders’ climate summit in New York on Sept. 23. “This conference, some say, has the potential to be major turning point in global climate change policy,” says Gray.
The Sept. 23 meeting is a prelude to the 2015 summit. “That particular meetings summit should crystallize the future of conversations around climate change,” says Gray, adding that it is expected to be as important as the FCCC’s 1992 conference in Rio de Janeiro. He notes that several existing international agreements are due to expire in November 2015.
“The Our Voices campaign is designed to take us from where we are now up to the 2015 conference,” says Gray. “To raise our moral voices and demand that policy makers come up with something that is fair, binding and effective.”