8 December 2023

Faith groups push for climate action in lead up to COP 28

The Talanoa Interfaith Gathering at COP 28 will draw from the problem-solving principles of Fijian Indigenous people. Picture: iStock.

Jenan Taylor

20 November 2023

People of all religions will push coal, oil and gas-producing nations to commit to phasing out fossil fuels to help contain rising global temperatures during a multifaith gathering at the 28th Conference of Parties climate change summit in Dubai.

Talanoa Interfaith Gathering participants are expected to tackle a range of climate change issues, and pressure fossil fuel-producing nations for a deeper commitment to the transition to renewables.

It comes as Pope Francis gets set to open the United Nations COP’s first ever faith pavilion, a dedicated space for religious communities to discuss how they are addressing climate change.

UN Interfaith Liaison Committee member and Talanoa organiser Bishop Philip Huggins said faith-based actors attended the global conference because they believed they had a sacred duty towards the planet, and were therefore deeply committed to caring for it.

Bishop Huggins said people of faith were important to climate change discussions because they fostered trust and transparency.

Read more: Faith-based activists push for climate justice

He said they could through the tone of the conversation reduce tension and encourage peace and more responsibility around dominant issues.

These included how transparent signatories to the Paris Agreement were about their attempts to cut emissions, Bishop Huggins said.

He said people of faith also recognised that for the sake of future generations and all living beings, there was a need for consensus.

“The UN COP is a cooperative venture to implement the Paris Agreement and contain the rise of global temperatures. This one is shadowed by international conflict and we are there to be important witnesses to the need for a greater level of cooperation,” Bishop Huggins said.

He said the Talanoa gathering was also an opportunity for people to meditate and pray towards a beneficial COP 28.

Bishop Huggins said the meeting format drew from the Talanoa Dialogue, a Fijian Indigenous people’s approach to problem solving.

Read more: Christians set sights on meaningful action ahead of climate summit

He said participants at this style of discussion were encouraged to consider and address who they were, where they wanted to go, and how they wanted to get there. The approach tried to make sure every voice was heard and respected, not just those of the elites.

Bishop Huggins said there was a greater respect for Indigenous wisdom in the global environmental advocacy and solutions space, including traditional wisdom about how to approach issues, and how to look after environments.

He said the gathering would take place at Christ Church Jebel Ali Anglican parish in Dubai on 30 November, and include a panel of religious leaders and United Arab Emirates officials, small group discussions, and an interfaith service.

Bishop Huggins said thanks to a Sikh gentleman in Melbourne, Dubai’s Sikh community would provide the conference’s shared meal.

Australians will be able to participate in the meeting online. See here for details.

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