E.U. Urges Religious Leaders to Boost Climate Change Fight

European Union officials urged Europe's religious leaders on Monday to be more active in the fight against climate change.

The 20 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders were specifically asked to raise greater awareness about climate change among their congregations.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said churches, temples, and mosques all have a role to play in helping to save the planet, according to The Associated Press.

"Climate change obliges all of us to take urgent action," said Barroso.

The focus of Monday's E.U.-religious leaders meeting in Brussels, Belgium, was on how to fight climate change.

But several of the world's most prominent Christian leaders residing in Europe have already urged their flocks to be more environmentally conscience, even taking drastic measures themselves to curb greenhouse gases.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, has been dubbed by some as the "green pope" because of his strong advocacy for creation care.

Under Benedict, the Vatican became the world's only sovereign state that is carbon-neutral – meaning that all greenhouse gas emissions from the Holy See are offset with renewable energy or carbon credits. Last summer, solar panels were installed on the roof of the city's buildings.

Meanwhile, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, has long been an active environmentalist. Last year, the "Green Patriarch" called on more than 2,500 European Christian leaders at the Third European Ecumenical Assembly to repent and change their lifestyle in response to the threats posed by climate change.

During his talk, Bartholomew chastised humans for "shamelessly" abusing God's creation.

"We are concerned about God's creation, which is constantly and shamelessly rendered the object of abuse," the ecumenical church leader had said. "We are concerned about the elementary climate and other conditions – quite literally, about the air and the oxygen breathed by modern man and which future generation, as we fear will seek in vain.

"We are, finally, concerned about humanity's mere survival on this continent and our planet," he added.

After his speaking engagement at the ecumenical gathering, Bartholomew traveled to an interfaith symposium in the Arctic Circle to highlight the environmental damage faced by the region's ecosystem.

Europe has some of the most environmentally healthy countries in the world, with Switzerland topping the global list of 149 countries, followed by Sweden, Norway, and Finland, according to the 2008 Environmental Performance Index.

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