Interfaith Manifesto on Climate Crisis

Interfaith Manifesto on Climate Crisis

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow | 12/5/2008

Hope for the Future!

The Uppsala Climate Manifesto 2008
Faith traditions addressing Global Warming

[This Manifesto was signed by more than 40 religious leaders from around the world, including Rabbi Arthur Waskow of The Shalom Center, at an Interfaith Summit on the Climate Crisis called by the Church of Sweden. The signers and a number of supporting leaders gathered in Uppsala, Sweden, in meetings chaired by the Archbishop of Sweden and addressed by the Crown Princess of Sweden, a vice-president of the European Union, and James Hansen, the scientist who first defined and publicized the actuality and causes of global climate heating. The Archbishop is carrying the Manifesto to the governments assembled in Poznan Poland, to the Swedish government as it prepares to chair the European Union, and to the new administration in the United States. ]

As religious leaders and teachers from the entire globe, gathered in Uppsala 2008, we call for effective leadership and actions in view of the global threat to the climate. From the major religious traditions, with different approaches to religious life, we come together at this moment in time to assure the world of what we have in common. We all share the responsibility to be conscious caretakers of our jewel home, planet Earth. We have reflected on the concerns of scientists and political leaders regarding the alarming climate crisis. We share their concerns.
The major world religions are a source of empowerment for change of lifestyles and patterns of consumption. The positive religious force is far greater than many imagine. We undertake this mission in a spirit of responsibility and faith.


With a sense of wonder we look at life on planet Earth. It is a miracle −and a gift!
Clear nights with the sky full of stars fill us with awe. It reminds us of our role in the universe. We have many reasons to be humble. Meditating at the sea shore, in the desert or in the forest brings the sensation of being united with the universe, yet we are so small. Faith traditions with diverse cultures and backgrounds converge to express our wonder and awe for the gift of life.

In the history of Earth, the climate has always varied. However, we are very concerned about the huge human impact on the Earth’s very complex and sensitive climate system. For the first time in history, humanity constitutes a major force which changes the preconditions for life and welfare for most creatures on the planet. We know enough to realize that we need to act now in the interest of future generations. The situation is critical. Glaziers and permafrost are melting. Devastating drought and flooding strikes people and ecosystems, especially in the South.

Can planet Earth be healed? We are convinced that the answer is yes. Major transformations of understanding human life, lifestyles and work modes, economy, trade and technology are needed. Ethics and values are intrinsic in the development of new institutional structures and architectures of politics and finance. In the religious realm long-sightedness has always been important. More than ever before the world now needs extraordinary, long-sighted political leadership.


For the Earth, salvation is about more than new technology and green economy. Salvation is about the inner space of human beings. Life without hope is detrimental to human existence. The peoples on this beautiful precious planet need to dialogue about what it means to live together, with global empathy in a global village. Religions can contribute to this in a decisive way.

As people from the major world religions, we urge governments and international organisations to prepare and agree upon a comprehensive climate strategy for the Copenhagen Agreement. This strategy must be ambitious enough to keep climate change below 2 degrees Celsius, and to distribute the “burden” in an equitable way in accordance with the principles of “common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities”. ”Greenhouse Development Rights” offers a concrete model of such burden sharing. We urge all actors concerned to find politically acceptable tools to realize this.

The Copenhagen Agreement must counteract misuse of land, of forests, and of farming land, using creative incentives for landowners, users and indigenous communities to manage growing forests as carbon sinks.

We ask the global political leadership for:

• rapid and large emission cuts in the rich world. Developed countries, especially those in Europe and North America, must lead the way. In the developed countries emissions must be reduced by at least 40 per cent by 2020 and 90 per cent by 2050 against 1990 levels.

• binding cuts for the rich world on top of their domestic obligations. According to the principles of responsibility and capability quantified in “Greenhouse Development Rights”, countries should pay for international cuts in addition to their own domestic initiatives. These payments should be obligatory, rather than voluntary.

• measurable, verifiable and reportable mitigation actions by developing countries, especially big countries with fast growing economies.

• massive transfers and sharing of important technology. All countries must encourage and facilitate sharing of technology that is intrinsically important to reduce emissions. Developing countries must have viable and technologically responsible opportunities to provide for their populations.

• economic incentives for developing countries to foster cleaner development on a national scale.

• adaptation to climate change. According to the same principles of responsibility and capability, countries must ensure that poor and vulnerable communities are empowered and supported. Adaptation to climate change must not fail for want of money or other resources.


We urge political and religious leaders to take responsibility for the future of our planet and the living conditions and habit preservation of new generations. Be assured that when you do that, you can count on important and sustainable support from the faith traditions of the world.

We are challenged to review the values, philosophies, beliefs and moral concepts which have shaped and driven our behaviours and informed our dysfunctional relationship with our natural environment.
We commit to taking and sharing responsibility for providing moral leadership within our various faith traditions and to all who desire the common good. We call upon all who have influence over the shaping of both intellect and spirit to commit to a profound reorientation of humanity’s understanding of itself and of the world whereby we acknowledge our estrangement and henceforth strive to live in harmony with Nature and one another.
We offer the gift of our various faiths as a source of empowerment for change of unsustainable lifestyles and patterns of consumption. We undertake this mission in a spirit of humility responsibility, faith and urgency.
The climate crisis is literally a question about the survival of humanity on planet Earth. At the same time, we know that the world has never before been more capable of creating sustainable development. Humanity possesses the knowledge and technology. Popular commitment is growing toward doing what can and must be done.

Now is the time to mobilise people and nations.
As people of different faiths, we make these commitments:

• to inform and inspire people in our own religious and cultural contexts to take responsibility for and to implement practical measures

• to challenge political and business leaders where we live and work to develop comprehensive strategies and action

• to focus on the struggle against global warming and draw upon our innermost religious convictions about the meaning of life. This commitment is a deeply spiritual question concerning justice, peace and hope for a future in love and solidarity with all human beings and the whole of creation.

As religious leaders and teachers, we want to counteract a culture of fear with a culture of hope. We want to face the climate challenge with defiant optimism to highlight the core principles of all major sacred traditions of the world: justice, solidarity and compassion. We want to encourage the best science and political leadership. We commit our communities to fostering a spirit of joy in relation to the greatest gift given to us all −the gift of life!

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