Evangelicals, Faith Leaders Push Green Cause at Copenhagen

Prominent evangelical leaders along with representatives of other religions are attending the United Nations summit on climate change in Copenhagen this week, where they aim to persuade global leaders to support cuts in carbon emissions.

Among the evangelical figures present in Copenhagen are Richard Cizik, former vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Jim Ball, a leader at the Evangelical Environmental Network.

Mainline church leaders who are at the summit include Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the Anglican Communion; Desmond Tutu, an archbishop emeritus of the Anglican Communion and Nobel Peace Prize laureate; and leaders of the National Council of Churches, according to USA Today.

An estimated 100 religious representatives from the United States are at the summit, and the number is estimated to reach several hundred if all the religious leaders from around the world are counted, according to Tyler Edgar, assistant director for the environmental arm of the NCC.

"Our role is to remind [politicians] that this is a profound moral issue, and that the basic moral teachings of religion apply to these environmental problems," said Ball, whose organization mobilizes Christians to care for the creation as well as lobbies for environmental protection policies, to USA Today.

But while some faith leaders are attending the climate conference in Copenhagen, another group of religious leaders are participating in an interfaith meeting in Melbourne, Australia, that is occurring at the same time. The Parliament of the World Religions conference, Dec. 3-9, addresses the topic of caring for the environment as well as reconciliation, poverty, and female empowerment.

Among the leaders at the World Religions conference are Dr. Joel Hunter, senior pastor of Northland Church in Orlando and a member of the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; former U.S. president Jimmy Carter; and the Dalai Lama.

The conference, which occurs every five years, attracted some 8,000 people from over 200 countries that represent every major faith in the world, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

During the world's largest interfaith gathering, religious leaders shared how climate change has affected their communities.

The Rev. Dirk Ficca, director of the Parliament, said the representatives are appealing to the leaders at the U.N. summit in Copenhagen to make "hard, courageous" decisions that will impact decades to come.

"Religious leaders are trying to draw on their wisdom and persuasiveness to make sure that we all believe it is sacred enough," Ficca said, according to BBC.

The climate summit in Copenhagen opened on Monday and will conclude next Friday. Some 100 world leaders will discuss a global deal to reduce carbon emissions that will replace the current Kyoto Protocol.

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