November 3, 2009
By United Nations Information Centre
The world's religions have a crucial role to play in the global fight against climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, characterizing the battle with global warming as a “moral” issue.
With the climate change conference in Copenhagen – where nations are expected to wrap up talks on an ambitious new agreement – just over one month away, “it is a pivotal moment for our world,” Mr. Ban said at a gathering of secular and religious leaders at Windsor Castle in London.
'Green' growth can enhance efforts to tackle global poverty and improve food, water and energy security, he stressed.
“We can lay a foundation for peace and security for generations to come,” the Secretary-General said at the event, hosted by Prince Philip. “We can define a more sustainable relationship with our planet.”
Because the issue of climate change is inter-generational and moral, “this is why the voices, the deeds and the teachings of the world's faith groups are so vitally important,” he emphasized.
Any deal reached in Copenhagen must be “comprehensive, equitable and ambitious,” Mr. Ban said, urging faith communities to help communicate the message that action must be taken urgently.
The potential impact of faith communities, he said, is “enormous” because they have the ability to set an example for the lifestyles of billions of people and reach millions of young people through education.
“You can – and do – inspire people to change,” the Secretary-General said.
“Your practical commitments can encourage political leaders to act more courageously in protecting people and the planet.”
While in London, Mr. Ban also met with United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown, with whom he discussed climate change.
“We are going through a crucially important period for the whole of humanity,” he told reporters after his meeting with the UK leader.
He said is encouraged that European Union (EU) leaders, at their meeting last week, recognized the importance of providing technical and financial support for climate change.
“The developed countries should come out with ambitious targets for greenhouse gas emissions by 2020,” Mr. Ban said. “We must be able to have an agreement where all the countries should participate with the clear vision that all the countries should work for the long-term goal to save this planet from climate change.”
He also spoke out against the notion that combating global warming is too expensive in a message delivered by Janos Pasztor, Director of the Secretary-General's Climate Change Support Team, to a dinner last night preceding the Windsor Castle event.
“We will pay an unacceptable price if we do not act now,” he underscored, calling for support for the world's most vulnerable to adapt to changes already afoot.