NewsCulture&ReligionPeace with the Planet Requires a Fossil Fuel Treaty

Peace with the Planet Requires a Fossil Fuel Treaty

By Ramesh Jaura

Major Religions React to Hiroshima G7

BERLIN | TOKYO, 24 May 2023 (IDN) — Key international religious organizations have expressed dismay at the failure of leaders of the Group of Seven Countries (G7)— Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States—to take steps to phase out fossil fuels and fund climate-related loss and damage.

The G7 met in Hiroshima May 19-21. [The European Union is a “non-enumerated member”]

In an open letter [English version of the Open LetterJapanese version of the Open LetterSpanish version of the Open Letter], six religious organizations with some 600 million members in more than 190 countries expressed grave disappointment that in a public communique, G7 leaders described public investment in fossil fuels as “appropriate,” called for an expansion of the gas sector, and thus blocking an effort to commit to a domestic coal phaseout date of 2030.

They renewed their pleas for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, an initiative which has won the endorsement of more than 100 Nobel Laureates, 85 cities and sub-national governments, the World Health Organization, and religious organizations whose membership exceeds 1.5 billion people.

The Treaty Initiative urges an immediate end to new fossil fuel projects, an equitable phase-out of existing coal, oil and gas production, and a generous commitment to a just transition for climate-impacted countries, communities and workers.

In addition to their large membership, Green AnglicansGreenFaithIslamic Relief WorldwideLaudato Si’ MovementSoka Gakkai International, and the World Council of Churches support an extensive range of humanitarian and educational programs globally.

“We are grateful that you are doing more to address climate change,” religious organizations stated in their open letter to G7 leaders. “Yet, as many of the world’s wealthiest countries, your governments are still supporting new fossil fuel projects, domestically and internationally.”

The organizations then called on G7 leaders to end approvals for new coal, oil and gas projects and fossil fuel subsidies, to contribute to the Loss and Damage Fund established at COP28 and to fund a just energy transition for impacted workers and communities.

“Shakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, dedicated his life to those who were suffering the most,” said Tomohiko Aishima of Soka Gakkai International, a global Buddhist organization based in Japan. “It is the most vulnerable people who are suffering the worst effects of climate change. As people of faith, we must stand with them and oppose all further investment in the fossil fuels that are causing so much harm to those who are least to blame.”

The theme of peace figured prominently in the organization’s decision to issue their open letter. “Peace is an essential dimension of our faith,” said the Rev. Dr. Kenneth Mtata, Director for Public Witness and Diakonia at the World Council of Churches. “Christ’s love calls us to deep solidarity and a quest for justice for those who have contributed to this emergency the least. Fossil fuels contribute today by far most to climate change and the fossil fuel economy must stop now, for the sake of the most vulnerable and coming generations.”

The Rev. Rachel Mash, Coordinator of Green Anglicans, added that “Climate change is causing oceans to warm at the same rate as if five Hiroshima bombs were dropped every second. This heats oceans, supercharges storms and cyclones, and causes devastation to millions around the world. The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is a way to stand in solidarity with those most impacted.”

At COP27, governments approved the creation of a Loss and Damage Fund to provide resources for climate-vulnerable nations. The religious organizations renewed calls which each of them had made for the rapid infusion of funds into this vehicle, and expressed disappointment that the G7 leaders had failed to do so.

“It is a moral and ethical imperative for nations to commit to a Fossil Fuel Treaty,” said Shahin Ashraf, Head of Global Advocacy, Islamic Relief Worldwide. “It will give a legal imperative to efforts to end exploration and investment and to phase out the use of coal, oil and gas. Only by these means will there be any chance of the world being able to manage adaptation to climate breakdown and addressing loss and damage.”

The religious leaders noted that climate-induced droughts, floods, and extreme weather events damage crops, reduce water availability, and limit access to natural resources. This leads to communal conflict over resources, such as land, water, and food. These changes also place women and girls at increased risk of sexual violence and exploitation.

“Most people displaced by climate change are women, who are particularly vulnerable as refugees,” said the Rev. Fletcher Harper, GreenFaith’s Executive Director. “Our religions teach us that society should honor women, not create the conditions for their violation.”

Harjeet Singh, Global Engagement Director for the Treaty initiative, said “It has been a year since diverse religious and spiritual communities began calling on governments for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Their letter to G7 leaders reinforces their demands and the ethical imperative to phase out oil, gas and coal, the weapons of mass destruction of our time. Religious leaders across the world are asking G7 leaders to turn their words into action by agreeing to the demand of a Fossil Fuel Treaty, a new global framework and meeting their obligations to help developing countries make a just transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy systems.”

“It is good that governments are increasing their renewable energy commitments,” said Msgr. Jorge Eduardo Lozano, Executive Secretary of the Latin America and the Caribbean Council of Bishops (CELAM).

“The time has come to embrace a treaty akin to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, but this time in the form of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. This urgent action is necessary to confront the pressing climate crisis directly linked to our reliance on coal, oil, and gas. We must acknowledge our moral responsibility to end the era of fossil fuel consumption and instead prioritize the just transition from fossil fuel to create a sustainable and habitable future for the entire human family.”

About the Co-Authors of the Open Letter

Green Anglicans is the Environmental Network of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa which has spread to 13 countries across Africa. (South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Eswatini, Mozambique, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana). We are part of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network. The Anglican Communion has passed a resolution to endorse the fossil fuel non- proliferation treaty.

GreenFaith is an international, grassroots, multi-faith climate justice organization, with staff in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas and local members in more than 40 countries. GreenFaith campaigns against new fossil fuel projects and related financing and in support of a just energy transition and loss and damage funds for climate-vulnerable countries.

Islamic Relief is a humanitarian and development agency last year reaching more than 13 million of the most marginalised people in 34 countries.  Inspired by the Islamic faith and guided by our values, serving all communities without prejudice, we work to reduce the impact of conflict, natural disaster and climate breakdown and empower communities to emerge from poverty and vulnerability.

Laudato Si’ Movement’s mission is to inspire and mobilize the Catholic community to care for our common home and achieve climate and ecological justice, in collaboration with all people of good will. The movement brings together a broad range of Catholic organizations (900+) and grassroots members from all over the world. These members walk together in synodality and communion with the Roman Catholic Church on a journey of ecological conversion in response to “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” (Laudato Si’, 49).

Soka Gakkai International is a global, community-based Buddhist organization with a membership of over 12 million people around the world that promotes peace, culture and education cantered on respect for the dignity of life. Soka Gakkai International (SGI) as a non-governmental organization has been in consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) since 1983. 

The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches. WCC members are found in more than 120 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 580 million Christians and including most of the world’s Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches.

The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative is spurring international cooperation to end new development of fossil fuels, phase out existing production within the agreed climate limit of 1.5°C and develop plans to support workers, communities and countries dependent on fossil fuels to create secure and healthy livelihoods. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Image credit: greenfaith

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