Climate change is at its root a spiritual crisis

October 28, 2011
World Council of Churches

Member churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Canada join hands with faith leaders, politicians and civil society actors to stress a “moral responsibility to address global warming”, which they call “a spiritual crisis”. Together they prepared a “Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change” on the occasion of the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2011 (COP 17).

Leading up to the events of COP 17 in Durban, South Africa from 28 November to 9 December 2011, this is one of the first times when a broad interfaith effort to write a common letter from faith leaders in Canada. These deliberations were undertaken at an event organized by the Commission on Justice and Peace of the Canadian Council of Churches from 23-24 October in Ottawa. 

The Canadian Council of Churches represents around 23 denominations from the Anglican, Evangelical, Catholic, Reformed, Free Church, and Eastern and Oriental Orthodox traditions, making up about 85% of the Christians in Canada.

Participants from diverse faith perspectives joined their voices with the interfaith signatories of this document in addressing the larger context of the United Nations: 

“As you carry out your responsibilities at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate (COP 17), we urge you to honour the values and adopt the policy goals we have described… [because] we believe these to be practical and critical measures necessary to secure the well-being of the planet for future generations of life.”

The WCC programme executives on climate change, Dr Guillermo Kerber praises these initiatives by the churches in Canada. He says, “WCC member churches have joined other religious organizations highlighting the spiritual implications of the consequences of climate change. We are listening to the calls coming from churches who are suffering already the consequences of climate change, as recently in Tuvalu.”

Kerber considers these efforts from the religious leaders as attempts to create a positive impact at the COP 17 conference in Durban.

“As we approach COP 17, statements like the one produced by Canadian churches can help show the concerns of faith communities. In Durban an interfaith rally and celebration is being organized by the ecumenical and religious actors. The WCC will be offering a side event at the official venue on 7 December together with Caritas International and Religions for Peace, addressing religious implications of climate change,” says Kerber.

Read also:

Canadian Council of Churches press release: Can faith communities change the climate?

WCC News: Raising ethical dimensions in debate on climate justice

WCC programme on climate change and eco-justice