Faiths Rise for Climate Action Globally, Issue Call for Living the Change


San Francisco, Sunday, September 9 — Around the world this weekend, thousands of people of diverse faiths helped lead Rise for Climate, a globally-connected mobilization with more than 850 events in 95 countries.  At actions and mobilizations in San Francisco, Jakarta, Lagos, Delhi, Sydney, Bogotá, Santiago, New York City and beyond, they brought an uncompromising message of moral urgency: bold action at the governmental, business and household level is the only way to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals and avoid devastating harm.

“The Earth is a sacred gift.  The climate is dangerously out of balance.  Governments, businesses, all of us — we have to wake up and make serious changes,” said Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith, the interfaith environmental organization that led the organizing of religious groups globally.  “We need commitments to fossil fuel divestment and no new fossil fuel projects.  Bold investments in 100% renewable energy for all. Electric transportation.  An end to tropical deforestation and the persecution of forests’ indigenous guardians. Jobs in a green economy.  Personal lifestyle change at scale. If we’re serious about addressing this crisis, an ‘a la carte’ approach simply will not cut it.”

Faith participation in Rise spanned the globe.  Across Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, more than 75 partner organizations co-hosted 28 actions in 19 districts and cities, inspired by Qur’anic teachings and values.  “Our Islamic faith is a way of life; it awakens our spirits,” said Hening Parlan, National Environment Coordinator of ‘Aisyiyah, a major Islamic women’s organization. “Saving the environment is the same as saving future generations.  It is our preaching in action.”

Actions in Australia were among the first of the day in Cairns, Hobart, Adelaide, Darwin, and Sydney, where a three-masted ship sported a “Rise for Climate” banner as it crossed Sydney Harbor.  According to Philippa Rowland, President of the Multifaith Association of South Australia: “It’s a sign of the times that people of faith will stand shoulder to shoulder with indigenous elders, teachers, students and people from all walks of life calling for real action on climate and clean energy across this vast continent.”

In Lagos, Nigeria — where unseasonably torrential rain has fallen for three days — the Interfaith Conference for Climate, Jobs and Justice began with a prayer to stop the downpour and prevent additional flooding, which has already caused untold suffering in recent years.  Dr. Bodji Dang, a Nigerian Buddhist leader, reflected upon the damage: “For the sake of all people and voiceless species with whom we share the biosphere, people of faith especially must listen to their silence and arise to act on their behalf.”

In San Francisco,  the anchor mobilization for the global day of action, diverse religious and spiritual partners held a multi-faith service before marching with a host of creative signs and banners that read “Many Faiths, One Planet” and “Praying With Our Feet”.

As the Global Climate Action Summit gets underway in San Francisco, faith communities are now turning their energy towards a multi-faith service to be live-streamed globally at 4:00 pm PT on Wednesday, September 13th at Grace Episcopal Cathedral.  The service will include messages from the Dalai Lama and Patriarch Bartholomew, and will feature a global call for people of faith to commit to Living the Change, a new sustainable lifestyles campaign calling for personal behavior changes with the greatest climate impact: sustainable transportation, 100% home renewable energy use, and plant-based diets.

“Fulfilling the promise of the Paris Agreement requires personal commitment alongside bold political and business leadership,” said Caroline Bader, Director of Living the Change.   “It is a reality that we simply cannot meet the 1.5⁰C temperature rise goal without a shift in our lifestyles. We care about tomorrow and the future of the planet and all people. That’s why we are committing to Living the Change.”



Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director, GreenFaith: “We’re marching because, in these dark times for the environment, it’s a gift to remember that there are countless thousands of people who care, who know what’s right for the Earth, who are putting their beliefs into action.  By insisting that our governments at every level make real climate commitments, leading by example, and living the change that’s needed for a sustainable future, we are literally keeping hope for our future alive.”

Nana Firman, Co-Founder, Global Muslim Climate Network: “God has made the earth green and beautiful.  And there is no greater threat to our ‘green and beautiful’ earth than the more frequent and intense droughts, floods, storms and wildfire brought by climate change, which knows no barrier.  What we face is a global problem, but we’re experiencing the impacts locally.  The devastation of climate crisis is happening more rapidly and has been experienced by many marginalized, underprivileged communities around the world.  In reality, climate change not only has grave implications for the future of our planet but also represent one of the great moral and ethical issues of our time.  Thus, I’m rising to protect our sacred earth for the sake of future generations and other creations.”

Dr. Fachruddin M. Mangunjaya, Chairman of Center for Islamic Studies, Universitas Nasional, Jakarta: “As we Rise for Climate, we want to set an example that our community has also committed to initiate the use of clean energy.  Our lecture series is designed to raise awareness about climate change issues and clean energy solutions in partnership with community leaders, mosque youth, madrasa and college students.  Our target is young people because they represent the leaders of our planet’s future!”

Alirio Cáceres Aguierre, Permanent Deacon of the Catholic Church, Archdiocese of Bogotá, Colombia: “In Bogotá, we have joined the global climate movement through the ‘Septimazo Climático’ — an artistic protest walk against the local government’s plans to replace healthy woodlands with paved roads and diesel bus routes.  We do not want buses that pollute the air. We do not want to cut down trees. We do not want fracking in our territories. We breathe.  We want to live.”

Arianne van Andel, Eco-theologian, Ecumenical Coalition for the Care of Creation, Santiago, Chile: “On the World Day of Prayer for Creation in Santiago, Chile, people marched hand-in-hand from the Franciscan Church to the River in recognition of local struggles to protect our waterways from pollution, and to stress the importance of water as a precious gift that sustains all life on Earth.”

Rev. Dr. Neddy Astudillo, Director for Training and Latinoamérica, GreenFaith: “Earth, la Tierra, the place we live, work and raise our families, is sacred and beautiful.  As people of faith, a higher power calls us to live as good stewards of land, sky and sea, to build just relationships with each other, so life can flourish all around.  We are rallying in my home state of Florida, marching in San Francisco and New York City, organizing summits in Michigan and Colorado, and joining together in prayer and action from sea to shining sea!”

Rev. Dr. Ambrose Carroll, Founder, Green The Church: “We are facing challenging times across the country when it come to climate change.  Extreme weather is having an impact on everyone everywhere throughout our nation. Flames of fire are burning California.  Record temperatures are heatwaves of harm from Texas to Louisiana to Florida. Rivers are overflowing and flooding small towns and cities.  And the Trump Administration is denying climate change and tearing down successful and achievable climate change and air pollution protections endangering everyone, particularly the least of these — our most vulnerable — our elderly, low-income and children.”

Rev. Susan Hendershot, President, Interfaith Power & Light: “California Interfaith Power & Light is proud to be a lead organizer for the Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice march in San Francisco.  As people of faith, we are called to speak out against injustice in our world, and climate change disproportionately impacts those who are most vulnerable in society.  At the same time, we know that we must support workers in a transition away from polluting fossil fuels — that workers need good-paying jobs that contribute to the health of their families and their communities.  A just transition to clean energy is urgent, it is within reach, and it is our moral obligation.”

Kyle Lemle, Bay Area Organizer, GreenFaith: “In California, we have already lost so much to climate chaos, and it’s only getting worse.  Our friends and family members have died in the wildfires that continue to destroy thousands of homes and hundreds of thousands of acres of our precious forest.  We have never seen drought like this. We have never been scared to breathe our own air, thick with smoke. This is why tens of thousands took to the streets of San Francisco to rise for climate justice, with California faith communities at the forefront of this mobilization.  In San Francisco, more than 130 congregations and 3,000 people of faith to demand an end to new fossil fuel projects and a just transition to 100% renewable energy.”

rev. abby mohaupt, Moderator, Fossil Free PCUSA: “We who are Presbyterian Christians join the march from a long history of crying out for environmental justice.  We march as people who will no longer stand for a world governed by corporations set on extracting resources at whatever cost.  We march as people demanding a just transition to work and life that upholds the dignity and lives of workers and frontline communities.  We have no more time – climate chaos is here, and we will not be silent.”

Rev. Jessica Abell, Colorado Organizer, GreenFaith: “Care for creation in all its forms is a moral action, a moral imperative.  As our world changes, the most vulnerable among us are bearing the greatest cost of the impacts of climate change.  We can choose to live differently and that’s what we’ve begun here in Colorado. Multiple sectors coming together to find basic common principles in how we transition away from fossil fuels, uphold the rights and dignity of all workers, uplift and amplify the voices of our communities.  How can we step up and stand for a different world? Together.”

Estrella Sainburg, Organizing Director, GreenFaith: “In the United States, faith leaders from Hawaii to Florida to New York and beyond are calling for an economy that recognizes, respects, and honors our beautiful common home, called Earth.  In Colorado, faith leaders are helping launch a multisector platform for just transition legislation; in Florida, we are getting ready for the November ballot with the newly launched Climate Alliance Tampa; and in San Francisco, hundreds of people of faith are headed to the streets just days before the Summit takes place.  Our deep calling, conviction, and moral responsibility is driving the call for climate action, jobs and justice.”

Pinaki Dasgupta, Director, GreenFaith India: “Diverse people of faith across India stand together for the sacredness of nature and the value of human and environmental health.  We pray together for a fossil-free future at temples in Burdwan, West Bengal. We host workshops for the Sheheri Aranya (Urban Forestry) campaign, planting indigenous trees together to create a sacred interfaith place inside Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi campus.  In this way, we grow appreciation for the connections between religion and environmental conservation, and take inspiration from nature for a sustainable lifestyle.”

Gopal Patel, Director, The Bhumi Project: “Hindus around the world are concerned about the future of the planet.  They see the urgent need to care for the environment as a moral and spiritual obligation, as their dharma.  In mobilisations from New Delhi to San Francisco, Hindus are Rising for Climate in recognition that global, systematic change must start with us – the people. Putting one foot in front of the other, step by step, we have to ‘walk the talk’ by living the change we want to see in the world.”

Irene Woodard, Shambhala Buddhist Social Action Committee, GreenFaith Board Member: “There’s one non-negotiable for people of faith: the Earth is a sacred gift whose care is in our hands.  It couldn’t be clearer that all our elected officials need to get serious, much more serious, about the climate threat and take action at the level needed to protect all people – particularly the most vulnerable among us.  That’s why people of faith and spirit, in New York and around the world, are rising for climate, jobs and justice.”

Kristin Barker, Co-Founder, One Earth Sangha: “The Buddhist and Mindfulness traditions teach the transformative power of turning toward each and every difficulty, even a difficulty as immense as global climate change.  When we look closely, we see that climate change is born of thinking ourselves separate from the web of life. We all have the power to remedy this confusion and countless benefits may follow.  We can advocate for justice-oriented policies that protect all beings, while also making significant sustainable choices in our own daily lives. In ways impossible to recognize, every action matters.”

Emilie Parry, International Network of Engaged Buddhists, Interreligious Climate & Ecology Network: “We have caused a lot of damage to the Earth, to our home.  As living beings on this Earth, we experience that suffering both with and as Nature.  As human beings in the Anthropocene, we have a great responsibility to act for the care, protection and healing of life on Earth.  We must act now with compassion, from our most individual behaviours to the economic and governance systems in which we participate collectively.  What we have is this moment. This is our chance to engage in Climate Justice.”

Sarah Newell, Intern, GreenFaith, Belfast, Ireland: “Change is here, and at the same time revival is in the Millennial generation! Waves of young people from diverse faith communities are rising to take their seat at the table and transform our current landscape of climate inaction.  Our next generation of young faith leaders must be equipped and empowered. We must welcome their divinely inspired wisdom, vision and hope and their commitment to putting their beliefs into action by protecting the abundance of gifts that the Earth provides.”

Media Contacts 

Brett Nadrich, Communications Director, GreenFaith (+1-732-588-6162 — USA)

Caroline Bader, Director, Living the Change (Germany)

** High-quality photos available here **

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