The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) held from October 31 to November 12, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland (United Kingdom), gathered politicians and scientists from every corner of the world to assess the causes and consequences of climate change and to devise a strategy for a more resilient, sustainable and carbon-free world.
According to numerous scientists, inaction in addressing the adverse impact of climate change could cost the world up to USD 1.7 trillion a year by 2050. Several countries may even “go extinct” and become uninhabitable if the rise of temperatures and related environmental impact continue unabated.
There is a general consensus among pro-climate change scientists that environmental degradation and global warming remain irreversible realities. The related ecological and social impact will cause catastrophic changes to the environment and the world’s eco-system bringing about deforestation, rising sea levels, reduced agricultural fertility, melting glaciers, thawing permafrost and torrential weather patterns across the world.
Inaction against global warming and environmental degradation is therefore not a viable scenario and the holding of COP26 offered a timely opportunity for world leaders and scientists to reason together and agree on a common roadmap for a sustainable future.
Whether such a scenario will unfold in the post-COP26 era remains to be seen, as numerous states maintain conflicting, political views regarding emission targets, the transition from traditional to renewable energy, reducing carbon footprints, adoption of legislation and national legal frameworks for phasing out “dirty energy” and sealing a global climate change agreement that is fair, inclusive and just to all state parties.
In the context of climate change, the “scientific and evidence-based approach” to determine its scope and assess its adverse impact on the world’s ecosystem is often held in high esteem and considered as the ultima veritas.
Often, a blind spot of science is that it does not take account of pertinent religious dogmas, texts and scriptures in the context of climate change and global warming. Why shouldn’t faith and science work together with science to achieve a more sustainable, eco-friendly future if they converge in their aspirations on the climate?
In fact, a comparative assessment of different scriptures from world major religions, creeds and value systems, such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism, illustrates that the protection of the environment, sustainability and resource preservation remain at the core of different faiths.
Below follows some relevant passages.
(…) waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.
And [We brought forth] a tree issuing from Mount Sinai which produces oil and food for those who eat.
[More precisely], is He [not best] who created the heavens and the earth and sent down for you rain from the sky, causing to grow thereby gardens of joyful beauty which you could not [otherwise] have grown the trees thereof? Is there a deity with Allah? [No], but they are a people who ascribe equals [to Him].
(…) Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (…) And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin (…) do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
And God took the human being and placed him in the Garden of Eden to develop and preserve it.
If you lay a prolonged siege on a city to fight against it to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them, for you shall eat from it but not destroy it, for the human is as the tree of the field (…).
If there is but one tree of flowers and fruit within a village, that place is worthy of your respect.
As a bee gathering nectar does not harm or disturb the colour and fragrance of the flower; so do the wise move through the world.
(Dhammapada, verse 49)
To eat coarse greens, drink water, and crook one’s elbow for a pillow – joy also lies therein.
(Analects of Confucius, 7:16)
Religious leaders and scientists can rise up together to the challenge of speaking with one, common voice against global warming. In fact, climate change poses a threat to all religious communities, regardless of religious orientation, and it remains therefore a common objective of religious leaders of all world religions, creeds and value systems to jointly promote a sustainable future in the common interest of humanity.