Buddhist Climate Change Statement to World Leaders 2015

October 29th, 2015

We, the undersigned Buddhist leaders, come together prior to the 21st Session of the Conference of Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, in order to add our voices to the growing calls for world leaders to cooperate with compassion and wisdom and reach an ambitious and effective climate agreement.

We are at a crucial crossroads where our survival and that of other species is at stake as a result of our actions. There is still time to slow the pace of climate change and limit its impacts, but to do so, the Paris summit will need to put us on a path to phase out fossil fuels. We must ensure the protection of the most vulnerable, through visionary and comprehensive mitigation and adaptation measures.

Our concern is founded on the Buddha’s realization of dependent co-arising, which interconnects all things in the universe. Understanding this interconnected causality and the consequences of our actions are critical steps in reducing our environmental impact. Cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion, we will be able to act out of love, not fear, to protect our planet. Buddhist leaders have been speaking about this for decades. However, everyday life can easily lead us to forget that our lives are inextricably interwoven with the natural world through every breath we take, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Through our lack of insight, we are destroying the very life support systems that we and all other living beings depend on for survival.

We believe it imperative that the global Buddhist community recognize both our dependence on one another as well as on the natural world. Together, humanity must act on the root causes of this environmental crisis, which is driven by our use of fossil fuels, unsustainable consumption patterns, lack of awareness, and lack of concern about the consequences of our actions.

We strongly support “The Time to Act is Now: A Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change,” which is endorsed by a diverse and global representation of Buddhist leaders and Buddhist sanghas. We also welcome and support the climate change statements of other religious traditions. These include Pope Francis’s encyclical earlier this year, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change, as well as the upcoming Hindu Declaration on Climate Change. We are united by our concern to phase out fossil fuels, to reduce our consumption patterns, and the ethical imperative to act against both the causes and the impacts of climate change, especially on the world’s poorest.

To this end, we urge world leaders to generate the political will to close the emissions gap left by country climate pledges and ensure that the global temperature increase remains below 1.5 degrees Celsius, relative to pre-industrial levels. We also ask for a common commitment to scale up climate finance, so as to help developing countries prepare for climate impacts and to help us all transition to a safe, low carbon future.

The good news is that there is a unique opportunity at the Paris climate negotiations to create a turning point. Scientists assure us that limiting the rise in the global average temperature to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius is technologically and economically feasible. Phasing out fossil fuels and moving toward 100 percent renewable and clean energy will not only spur a global, low-carbon transformation, it will also help us to embark on a much-needed path of spiritual renewal. In addition to our spiritual progression, in line with UN recommendations, some of the most effective actions individuals can take are to protect our forests, move toward a plant-based diet, reduce consumption, recycle, switch to renewables, fly less, and take public transport. We can all make a difference.

We call on world leaders to recognize and address our universal responsibility to protect the web of life for the benefit of all, now and for the future.

For these reasons, we call on all Parties in Paris:

  1. To be guided by the moral dimensions of climate change as indicated in Article 3 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  2. To agree to phase out fossil fuels and move towards 100 percent renewables and clean energy.
  3. To create the political will to close the emissions gap left by country climate pledges so as to ensure that the global temperature increase remains below 1.5 degrees Celsius, relative to pre-industrial levels.
  4. To make a common commitment to increase finance above the US$100 billion agreed in Copenhagen in 2009, including through the Green Climate Fund (GCF), to help vulnerable developing countries prepare for climate impacts and transition towards a low-carbon economy.

The time to act is now.

Yours sincerely,

His Holiness the Dalai Lama Tenzing Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, Patriarch of the Plum Village International Community of Engaged Buddhists

His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Head of the Karma Kagyu

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ATTEND A CLIMATE REALITY TRAINING WITH AL GORE

The Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Miami, Florida, which will be held September 28-30, will bring together a select group of individuals committed to addressing the impacts of climate change and implementing the solutions that will define us to future generations. This training is an opportunity to join a global network of leaders committed to solving the climate crisis.

Over the course of three days, you’ll have the opportunity to hear from experts who will share information about the science behind the climate crisis as well as their experiences educating and engaging diverse networks and communities. You will also have the chance to connect with a group of extraordinary leaders from a variety of sectors and countries around the world.

“Life changing,” “re-affirming,” and “empowering” are just some of the ways past participants have described their experience. Come as a leader, leave as a Climate Reality Leader. More

 

Obama to Unveil Tougher Climate Plan With His Legacy in Mind

WASHINGTON — In the strongest action ever taken in the United States to combat climate change, President Obama will unveil on Monday a set of environmental regulations devised to sharply cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s power plants and ultimately transform America’s electricity industry.

The rules are the final, tougher versions of proposed regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency announced in 2012 and 2014. If they withstand the expected legal challenges, the regulations will set in motion sweeping policy changes that could shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants, freeze construction of new coal plants and create a boom in the production of wind and solar power and other renewable energy sources.

As the president came to see the fight against climate change as central to his legacy, as important as the Affordable Care Act, he moved to strengthen the energy proposals, advisers said. The health law became the dominant political issue of the 2010 congressional elections and faced dozens of legislative assaults before surviving two Supreme Court challenges largely intact.

“Climate change is not a problem for another generation, not anymore,” Mr. Obama said in a video posted on Facebook at midnight Saturday. He called the new rules “the biggest, most important step we’ve ever taken to combat climate change.”

The most aggressive of the regulations requires the nation’s existing power plants to cut emissions 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, an increase from the 30 percent target proposed in the draft regulation.

That new rule also demands that power plants use more renewable sources of energy like wind and solar power. While the proposed rule would have allowed states to lower emissions by transitioning from plants fired by coal to plants fired by natural gas, which produces about half the carbon pollution of coal, the final rule is intended to push electric utilities to invest more quickly in renewable sources, raising to 28 percent from 22 percent the share of generating capacity that would come from such sources.

In its final version, the rule retains the same basic structure as the draft proposal: It assigns each state a target for reducing its carbon pollution from power plants, but allows states to create their own custom plans for doing so. States have to submit an initial version of their plans by 2016 and final versions by 2018.

But over all, the final rule is even stronger than earlier drafts and can be seen as an effort by Mr. Obama to stake out an uncompromising position on the issue during his final months in office.

The anticipated final climate change regulations have already set off what is expected to be broad legal, legislative and political backlash as dozens of states, major corporations and industry groups prepare to file lawsuits challenging them.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, has started an unusual pre-emptive campaign against the rules, asking governors to refuse to comply. Attorneys general from more than a dozen states are preparing legal challenges against the plan. Experts estimate that as many as 25 states will join in a suit against the rules and that the disputes will end up before the Supreme Court.

Leading the legal charge are states like Wyoming and West Virginia with economies that depend heavily on coal mining or cheap coal-fired electricity. Emissions from coal-fired power plants are the nation’s single largest source of carbon pollution, and lawmakers who oppose the rules have denounced them as a “war on coal.”

“Once the E.P.A. finalizes this regulation, West Virginia will go to court, and we will challenge it,” Patrick Morrisey, the attorney general of West Virginia, said in an interview with a radio station in the state on Friday. “We think this regulation is terrible for the consumers of the state of West Virginia. It’s going to lead to reduced jobs, higher electricity rates, and really will put stress on the reliability of the power grid. The worst part of this proposal is that it’s flatly illegal under the Clean Air Act and the Constitution, and we intend to challenge it vigorously.”

Although Obama administration officials have repeatedly said states will have flexibility to design their own plans, the final rules are explicitly meant to encourage the use of interstate cap-and-trade systems, in which states place a cap on carbon pollution and then create a market for buying permits or credits to pollute. The idea is that forcing companies to pay to pollute will drive them to cleaner sources of energy.

That new rule also demands that power plants use more renewable sources of energy like wind and solar power

Mr. Obama tried but failed to push through a cap-and-trade bill in his first term, and since then, the term has become politically toxic: Republicans have attacked the idea as “cap and tax.”

But if the climate change regulations withstand legal challenges, many states could still end up putting cap-and-trade systems into effect. Officials familiar with the final rules said that in many cases, the easiest and cheapest way for states to comply would be by adopting cap-and-trade systems.

The rules take into account the fact that some states may refuse to submit plans, and on Monday, the administration will also unveil a template for a plan to be imposed on such states. That plan will include the option of allowing a state to join an interstate cap-and-trade system.

The rules will also offer financial benefits for states that choose to take part in cap-and-trade systems. The final rules will extend until 2022 the timeline for states and electric utilities to comply, two years later than originally proposed. But states that begin to take actions to cut carbon pollution as early as 2020 will be rewarded with carbon reduction credits — essentially, pollution permits that can be sold for cash in a cap-and-trade market.

Climate scientists warn that rising greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly moving the planet toward a global atmospheric temperature increase of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the point past which the world will be locked into a future of rising sea levels, more devastating storms and droughts, and shortages of food and water. Mr. Obama’s new rules alone will not be enough to stave off that future. But experts say that if the rules are combined with similar action from the world’s other major economies, as well as additional action by the next American president, emissions could level off enough to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

Mr. Obama intends to use the new rules to push other countries to commit to deep reductions in their own carbon emissions before a United Nations summit meeting in Paris in December, when a global accord to fight climate change is expected to be signed.

Mr. Obama’s pledge that the United States would enact the climate change rules was at the heart of a pact that he made last year with President Xi Jinping of China, committing their nations, the world’s two largest carbon polluters, to substantially cut emissions.

“It’s the linchpin of the administration’s domestic effort and international effort on climate change,” said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, a research organization. “It raises the diplomatic stakes in the run-up to Paris. He can take it on the road and use it as leverage with other big economies — China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia.”

While opponents of the rules have estimated that compliance will cost billions of dollars, raise residential electricity rates and slow the American economy, the administration argues that the rules will save the average American family $85 annually in electricity costs and bring additional health benefits by reducing emissions of pollutants that cause asthma and lung disease.

The rules will be announced at a White House ceremony on Monday and signed by Gina McCarthy, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator. While the ceremony is scheduled to take place on the White House’s South Lawn, officials said it might be moved indoors to the East Room after forecasters predicted that the weather would be too hot.

 

 

The state of the climate — and what we might do about it

Today, the UN begins its Climate Summit, enlisting the world to work together on a problem that’s too big for any one country to solve. Lord Nicholas Stern helped write the delegates’ report that outlines where we are now — and what we could do next. It’s a big vision for cooperation, with a payoff that goes far beyond averting disaster. He asks: How can we use this crisis to spur better lives for all?