Earlham College Gretchen Castle calls for action on climate change at UN conference
Representatives of religions around the world are calling on government leaders to take serious action to tackle climate change. They appealed ahead of the 26th United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP26) which will start on October 31.
The dean of Earlham College’s school of religion, Gretchen Castle, was among those who formulated the document. Earlham’s seminar is founded on Quaker values.
Castle has spent the past year meeting with religious leaders as part of the “Faith and Science: Towards COP26” initiative sponsored by the Holy See and the embassies of Italy and Great Britain. She recently returned from the Vatican where she met some of these leaders, including the Pope.
“The purpose was to share our different religious approaches to the whole issue of climate change,” Castle told WVXU. “It was remarkable how much I speak with people from Japan or China, Buddhists or Hindus – all of whom share the same climate concerns as the people I work with.”
The result is a document calling on countries to commit to reducing their carbon footprint and responding to the “unprecedented ecological crisis”.
“We haven’t been able to be kind to the earth,” Castle said. “It’s a matter of faith, it’s a spiritual imperative for many, many believers around the world to be kind to our land.”
The five-page appeal states “The time has come for urgent, radical and responsible action.”
They call on all nations to take ambitious, short-term action to reduce emissions and lower “the rise in global average temperature to 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels.”
The call continues: “We implore those nations with the greatest responsibility and current capacity to: step up climate action at home; keep existing promises to provide substantial financial resources support to vulnerable countries; agree on new goals to enable them to become climate resilient, as well as adapt and cope with climate change and loss and damage, which is already a reality for many countries. “
Religious leaders are also committed to taking action themselves by, among other things, encouraging members of their religious traditions to take care of the land; follow science and encourage cultural and political institutions to do the same; and support actions that reduce waste and emissions while promoting sustainability.
“Climate change affects people around the world differently, and those who are least responsible – who use the least resources – are affected the most,” says Castle. “For me … coming from a privileged and richer country, I feel a great need to talk about it; to help religious groups to really integrate fully into it; and for all of us to take it seriously. both our individual behaviors that can change things as well as working to change systems. “
The “Faith and Science: Towards COP26” initiative includes representatives of Christian religions as well as Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism and Jainism, according to Reuters.
COP26 opens on October 31 and ends on November 12.
Earlham is a liberal arts college in Richmond, Indiana, founded by Quakers in 1847. About 5.5% of students are Quakers. Prior to joining the Earlham School of Religion, Castle was previously secretary general of the World Friends Advisory Committee, the world office of the Quakers, in London.