Climate change has been called “the defining human development challenge of the 21st century.” Accordingly, the discourse on climate change has seized the attention of governments and peoples alike. More than a technical or scientific challenge, at its core, it is a moral challenge raising questions of equity and justice. Thus, climate change policies must be rooted in a global perspective and based on a moral ethic grounded in shared responsibility.
On climate change, the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs (OPA) has partnered with many organizations, including Interfaith Power and Light (IPL), a non-partisan interfaith ministry with affiliates in nearly 40 states. IPL educates people of faith about the moral and ethical mandate to address global warming and practical steps that individuals can take in this effort — such as supporting renewable energy, energy efficiency, and conservation. OPA works with the U.S. Baha’i community to encourage their participation in IPL’s annual National Preach-In on Climate Change. Additionally, OPA’s representative gives presentations at Baha’i schools across the country on this topic, has prepared outreach materials, and has served in an advisory role at IPL.
In late 2011, OPA joined over 1,200 other signatories in endorsing the Climate Ethics Campaign’s statement, “Our Nation’s Moral Obligation to Address Climate Change.” The statement calls on political leaders to address the country’s “moral obligation to prevent the human suffering created by climate change, to safeguard the poor and most vulnerable communities from harm they did not create, and to protect the natural environment.”
efficiency and climate change.
The Office supports these and other interfaith initiatives on global warming. For example, OPA’s representative served on the steering committee of Interfaith Moral Action on Climate Change – a collaborative initiative of diverse faith communities working on the climate issue. Among other activities, this interfaith group made visits to Capitol Hill to share the commonly held views of diverse faith communities on the need for climate action with members of Congress.
In early 2013, OPA’s representative opened an event sponsored by the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives and the Environmental Protection Agency with a speech on the “Power of Interfaith Collaboration.” The event was attended by approximately 150 faith leaders and senior administration officials and featured the work that religious congregations are doing to address global warming through energy savings programs (see related article).
At an international level, in addition to addressing climate change at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, OPA’s representative has attended meetings of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, where the representative shared Baha’i perspectives at a symposium on climate ethics, helped to draft policy statements, and addressed a press conference on the ethical dimensions of the climate issue.