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Religious Leaders Support UN Climate Agreement

More than 200 religious leaders say they support the climate change agreement negotiated in Paris last year and want it to be put into effect quickly.

This Friday -- Earth Day -- world leaders will sign the agreement at United Nations headquarters in New York City.

The religious leaders joined in prayer Monday at a religious center at the UN. They released a statement that urged countries to quickly sign, approve and enforce the Paris Climate Agreement. The statement was sent to the General Assembly President to be given to UN member states.

The agreement will take effect after 55 countries, representing at least 55 percent of total greenhouse emissions, have approved the treaty. Many studies have linked carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to climate change.

Fletcher Harper is an Episcopalian clergyman. He also leads a coalition of different religious groups called GreenFaith. GreenFaith helped organize the gathering of religious leaders at the UN. Harper says the leaders’ campaign has the support of almost 5,000 people and 90 groups worldwide.

“The statement reflects that we must regard the Earth as a gift, not just as a commodity that can be bought or sold, but as a gift that must be cherished and protected not only for short-term economic gain, but for the long-term protection of life. These are fundamental moral and religious values that are shared by traditions across the world.”

Kiran Bali leads the United Religions Initiative, an interfaith group that works in 94 countries.

“For many of us, we are seeing the problem across the world -- drought, food shortages, extinction of species. I feel that this is a human and a spiritual failure and I’m here to ask for everybody to unite, to come together as people of faith who believe in the values of oneness and respect, environmental stewardship and really save our planet, save our earth.”

Fletcher Harper believes religious leaders can have an influence on the climate policies and actions of many countries.

“We have a chance to, to transform the cultures of the world, and by transforming the cultures, transform politics so that government leaders understand that they absolutely must take dramatic action on climate change now.”

I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise

VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reported this story from Washington. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

emissions – n. something sent out or given off

reflect – v. to show (something); to make (something) known

commodity – n. something that is bought and sold

cherish – v. to feel or show great love for (someone or something)

fundamental – adj. forming or relating to the most important part of something

drought – n. a long period of time during which there is very little or no rain

extinction – n. the state or situation that results when something (such as a plant or animal species) has died out completely

stewardship – n. the activity or job of protecting and being responsible for something