Climate action will happen when people say 'enough', religious leaders tell Cop27

If governments will not act then ordinary people must change their lives, climate conference hears

James Sternlicht, co-founder of The Peace Department, and Archbishop Seraphim Kykkotis of the Greek Orthodox Church at a meeting of multi-faith leaders at Cop27. Photo: Israeli Pavilion
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Religious leaders at Cop27 have offered blessings and support for the crucial climate conference.

Speaking at the Sharm El Sheikh venue on Monday as talks grind on into a second week, representatives of the Greek Orthodox, Jewish and evangelical churches offered support but also warned of the dangers of not acting fast enough.

Delivering their message only a three-hour drive from Mount Sinai, a revered place for the world’s major religions where Moses is believed to have brought the Ten Commandments down from God, they said the climate crisis was a moral one.

The event at the Israeli pavilion also tried to show how religion can support the fight to save the planet.

“Unless we have a change of heart and unless people begin to change lifestyles, we are not going to avert the crisis,” said Sister Maureen Goodman of the Brahma Kumaris movement, a spiritual group formed in India during the 1930s.

“To serve, this is the motivation that is needed to turn around the situation we see today,” said Sister Goodman.

“It is not something that can be imposed on someone from outside.

“I don’t know if it will come from governments but it is certainly coming from non-government organisations and people changing their lives and saying 'enough is enough'.

“Once the conscious is awakened, it is very difficult to go back.”

James Sternlicht, co-founder of The Peace Department, a non-profit organisation dedicated to philanthropy, said it was about simple actions.

“We have been blessed with life, it is our task to make it better,” he said. “If we don't do that we are in trouble. Faith is a messenger of hope.”

Ministers from around the world will start to arrive at Cop27 this week to try to thrash out a deal.

But the conference so far has been hit by tensions between developing and developed countries over loss and damage — compensation funds — for the effects of climate change.

Archbishop Seraphim Kykkotis of the Greek Orthodox Church said a lack of unity at national political level, pointing to the instability in the UK where successive prime ministers have come and gone, was leading to a paralysis in the international arena.

“Now the fire is there, it is coming to me,” he said. “We must find ways to stop it.”

Cop27 continues in Egypt until November 18.

Climate protesters outside Cop27 — in pictures

Updated: November 14, 2022, 2:41 PM