Buddhist Leaders Release Climate Change Statement
Less than a month before the 21st session of the Conference of Parties (COP21) is set to begin, UN delegates received another powerful climate change declaration from the global faith community. Signatories to the Buddhist Climate Change Statement to World Leaders warn, “We are at a crucial crossroads where our survival and that of other species is at stake as a result of our actions.” The statement is signed by major Buddhist leaders including the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh.
With their declaration, the Buddhist community added their voice to an impressive coalition of religious leaders and communities. Last June, Pope Francis published a landmark environmental encyclical and in August, Muslim scholars and leaders issued the “Islamic Declaration on Climate Change.” Hundred of rabbis have also signed the Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis and a Hindu Declaration on Climate Change was released in 2009. Many other religious organizations have decided to divest from fossil fuels, green their congregations, and engage their communities to environmental action.
These religious leaders groups have found a link between the tenants of their faith and taking climate action. The Buddhist statement describes the connection to Buddhism clearly:
Our concern is founded on the Buddha’s realization of dependent co-arising, which interconnects all things in the universe. Understanding this interconnected causality and the consequences of our actions are critical steps in reducing our environmental impact. Cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion, we will be able to act out of love, not fear, to protect our planet. . . .
We believe it imperative that the global Buddhist community recognize both our dependence on one another as well as on the natural world. Together, humanity must act on the root causes of this environmental crisis, which is driven by our use of fossil fuels, unsustainable consumption patterns, lack of awareness, and lack of concern about the consequences of our actions.
Like the other religious statements, the Buddhist community makes specific requests to COP21 delegates and remains hopeful they will succeed in protecting our planet. The Dalai Lama made a similar light-hearted plea for serious action just weeks before the Buddhist statement was released. He argued taking climate action is logical.
With pressure mounting for COP21 delegates to act and many countries already adopting climate plans, it’s hard not to feel hopeful they will sign a serious climate committment. But will it be enough to reverse the downward direction our planet is heading?
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