December 10, 2009
Contact: The Rev. Canon Sally Bingham (415) 561-4891, ext.13
Susan Stephenson (415) 561-4891, ext. 14
San Francisco – While the world’s attention focuses on negotiations over international commitments to fight global climate change in Copenhagen, Denmark, the faith community is quietly working behind-the-scenes implementing solutions in the developing world.
“We’re not waiting for a treaty. The climate can’t wait, and Creation can’t wait. Right now in Africa, in Asia, and all over the developing world people’s lives, homes, and livelihoods are being threatened,” said The Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham, president and founder of Interfaith Power and Light. ” And it’s often people living subsistence lifestyles – those who are have contributed the least to global warming – who are suffering the most.”
The new program – “Carbon Covenant” – was launched by Interfaith Power & Light (IPL), a national campaign with over 10,000 U.S. congregations and 30 state affiliates working to mobilize a religious response to global warming. Carbon Covenant was launched to link up faith communities in the U.S. with those in the developing world on the front lines of climate change. All of the projects supported by Carbon Covenant are initiated and run by faith communities.
“As people of faith, it is our moral duty and our responsibility to help. We call it a Carbon Covenant because those of us here in the U.S. can effectively offset our carbon emissions by supporting these projects in the developing world,” said Bingham.
To date, all four Carbon Covenant projects address the top source of the greenhouse gas emissions in the developing world: rampant deforestation. Scientists estimate that deforestation contributes roughly 20 percent of global carbon emissions, and simply stopping that forest loss is an immediate way to alleviate global warming. Here is a summary of each Carbon Covenant project:
- Buddhist Monks residing in a remote region of Cambodia seek to halt illegal logging by first ordaining trees as sacred sites and then voluntarily patrolling the area to dissuade the indiscriminate felling of trees.
- The Presbyterian Church in Ghana is addressing the cause of forest loss head on: teaching local people how to switch to more sustainable livelihoods such as bee keeping and snail farming.
- Presbyterians, joined by Muslims, Catholics and other Protestants, will plant 100,000 trees over three years in ten different regions of Cameroon.
- A Lutheran Bishop on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro is making tree planting a part of confirmation in the church for youth. The goal is to plant 3 million trees in an effort to address erosion and crop failures due to the disappearing “eternal snows” of this legendary volcanic site.
For more information, including photos of the projects, see www.co2covenant.org. Interfaith Power and Light is partnering with three other faith organizations on this effort: United Religions Initiative; Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC); and GreenFaith.
While the fate of the Copenhagen negotiations remains, literally, up in the air, IP&L is moving forward with an innovative way for citizens of all faiths all over the world to do their part to help the most vulnerable address global warming and build stronger communities – offering hope for those people also suffering from poverty, disease and malnutrition.
“Instead of a treaty, we have a covenant,” concluded Bingham. “And it’s off to a great start.”