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A-Z workshop Korea

A multi-faith declaration on the global climate crisis and

the promotion of appropriate alternative energy

Woljeongsa Temple, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do, South Korea

24-25 April 2015

Faith-based organisations in cooperation with civil society members including environmental organisations gathered at Woljeongsa Temple in Pyeong Chang, Republic of Korea for a two day workshop to study and reflect on the causes, consequences, duties and actions related to the crisis of climate change.

Delegates came from Korea, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Austria, Hungary and South Africa. Delegates included followers of Islam, Catholic and Protestant Christianity, Buddhist denominations including Zen, Pure Lands, Won, Vajrayana and Theravada, as well as the Brahma Kumaris.

The workshop studied the causes, impacts, risks and vulnerabilities caused by anthropogenic (human caused) greenhouse gas emissions. The workshop further studied the issue of ocean acidification and the serious risks posed to biodiversity, ecosystems integrity, food security and human well-being. Particular attention was given to vulnerable communities and threats to peace and social cohesion.

The meeting studied the international instruments related to resolving climate change, notably the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The meeting reflected on local wisdom, values and knowledge.

The workshop reflected on the role of religion and scriptures, traditional wisdom and modern innovative ideas in response to climate change and its origin in human behaviour, ethics and our approach to economic development, industry and technology.

The meeting noted that we are living according to an unsustainable paradigm where certain human behaviours are placing the climate and ecosystems in grave danger. Globally, our political-economies are attached to growth-models which drive the emissions of greenhouse gases and the destruction of nature which is the underlying fabric of life on our planet. The situation at the United Nations and in some of our home countries indicates that our political systems are not responding fast enough to the threats.

The origin of the problem is in human behaviour and appropriate action is required to inspire personal and collective behaviour changes sufficient to prevent catastrophic loss of life, both human and non-human. Our crisis is fundamentally one of conscience and ethics.

The meeting agreed that religion is a source of ancient wisdom and a repository of our deepest values. In many countries, religious leaders are held in high regard and it is the duty of religious leaders, organisations and congregations to understand the harm that is arising from our current behaviour and to transform this into a new paradigm that values life.

All of our religions call on us to love others as we love ourselves. Compassion, generosity, mindfulness, love and a respect for life have to be at the heart of our civilisations if we are to survive this current phase.

We rejoice in the examples of faith-based initiatives to promote alternative energies. We make an urgent call to all religious organisations, congregations and other social movements to end the use of fossil fuels as soon as possible. Our churches, temples, mosques and schools need to be leading by example.

We noted that we should not naively leap into renewable energies without recognizing that alternative energies also bring their own environmental and social problems. As we embrace alternative energy sources, we should not be repeating the mistakes of the unsustainable paradigm. We need to be mindful to bring change through consensus and respect for diversity. Several of our participating communities expressed particular concern about the life-negating use of nuclear power.

We call on all levels and types of leadership to promote climate and environmental solutions as contributing to moral development, as spiritual practice, as well as building peaceful, sustainable and compassionate communities.

We pray for the safety of those most vulnerable to climate change. We honour the abundance of the living world. We find inspiration in our relationship with nature. We recognize our duty to the generations to come.

Through this declaration, we share our reflections with others for the well-being of the world. May these ideas inspire positive actions by people of faith everywhere. May our ignorance be washed away and our hearts be inspired by cooperation and good-will. May we be humble and consistent in this endeavour.

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