Averting climate change will need help from faith-based organizations, says UN official.


NEW YORK--The world will need an enormous push from the private sector and civil society--including religious organizations--if humanity is to make the transition to a low carbon future and prevent the catastrophic effects of global warming, a top UN official has said.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said civil society and, in particular, religious groups have a key role to play in such a transition, because of the moral dimensions of the climate issue. "Moral leadership is truly a scarce resource these days:' said Ms. Figueres during an interview after a talk on 20 September 2013 at the offices of the Bahd'i International Community. "But there is a moral necessity to stand up ... and assume responsibility And I would hope that the faith-based community would be even more active than it is right now in calling for that moral leadership."

Ms. Figueres said the main moral dilemma in the climate issue is the discrepancy between those who caused the emissions that are responsible for climate change and those who will feel the main impact of its effects.

"It is no secret that those at the bottom of the pyramid, independently of what country they live in, are the least responsible for having caused greenhouse gas emissions in the past:' she said. "And yet those at the bottom of the pyramid are the ones that are already getting it the worst, and certainly will continue to be hit the worst."

"So that is a moral imperative said Ms. Figueres. "We cannot look ourselves in the mirror and be untouched by the fact that those of us who enjoy the privileges of modern comfort are doing so at the expense of the quality of life of those at the bottom of the pyramid."

During her talk at a breakfast dialogue on the post-2015 development agenda, Ms. Figueres warned that there will be catastrophic effects if the international community does not do more to limit the production of greenhouse gases, which many scientists say have already caused global warming. "This is a challenge that has economic consequences, poverty consequences, security consequences, transportation consequences--you name it--the list is long," said Ms. Figueres. "There is hardly a human endeavor that is not touched by climate change: she said.

In that light, she said, the issue of climate change cannot be separated from the current discussions at the United Nations on the post-2015 development agenda, which seeks...

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