Faith groups intensify climate justice call as skeptic Trump chooses environment head

Faith groups have stepped up their campaigning for earth care as international groups meet in Morocco to enter the Paris Agreement on climate change into force as doubts abound about how U.S. president elect, Donald Trump, a climate skeptic, prepares for office.

"This is the time to step forward and act as trustees to Mother Earth. Together, by supporting each other's progress we can go further and faster", reads the "COP22 Interfaith Statement."

The document was prepared by faith communities involved in advocacy work on climate change at the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).

Trump has selected a climate skeptic to lead his Environmental Protection Agency transition team, a man whose beliefs are distinctly at odds with President Barack Obama's environmental policies, CBS News reports.

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The Competitive Enterprise Institute's (CEI) Myron Ebell is also viewed by many as a top candidate to become the next head of the EPA said CBS.

Ebell's research focuses on questioning what he calls "global warming alarmism" and opposing energy rationing policies, according to his biography on CEI's website.

In 2012, Ebell, in a Frontline documentary entitled "Climate of Doubt," described former Vice President Al Gore as "the perfect proponent and leader of the global warming alarmist because he's very politically diverse and controversial."

Trump is set to become the world's only leader who does not believe human-caused global warming exists, wrote Andrew Freedman on Mashable.

China reiterated Nov. 11 that with or without the United States, it is firmly committed to continuing to reduce its emissions.

Meanwhile in Marrakesh, Morocco, the 7-18 November climate conference is taking place in an historic moment in which the Paris Agreement enters into force, some would say just in time.

The agreement is an unprecedented global consensus that has produced a universal framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to build greater resilience to climate impacts.

PARIS AGREEMENT

Faith communities continue to work hard to make the Paris Agreement a reality in many parts of the world.

Leaders from global faith groups, financial institutions and foundations called on sovereign wealth and pension funds to end trillions in investments related to fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy in line with the Paris Agreement.

The faith leaders met at Building the Divest Invest Movement with Faiths, Foundations and Finance, an official side event of the COP22 UN Convention on Climate Change, which began Nov. 7 in Marrakesh.

At theInterfaith Climate Statement was released, with from across faith traditions joining together in a powerful call to action.

Signer include the Dalai Lama; Msgr. Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences; Rev Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary, World Council of Churches; Sayyid M. Syeed, Islamic Society of North America; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; and more than  220 other faith leaders.

Other signatories include senior Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Muslim, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Unitarian Universalist, Indigenous and other spiritual leaders.

"We must deliberately turn away from investing in fossil fuels and we stand together, to call for a collective shift by sovereign wealth funds and public sector pension funds from fossil fuels towards climate solutions", reads the text.

Among other issues, faith groups at COP22 will be actively advocating for:

● States rapidly increasing pledges to reduce emissions, in line with the goal limiting global temperature rise to below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels;

● A collective shift by sovereign wealth funds and public sector pension funds away from fossil fuels into renewables and other climate solutions;

● An increase in global financial flows to end energy poverty with renewable energy and to provide for greater human and ecological adaptation, particularly to compensate for loss and damage, technology transfer and capacity building;

Stricter controls on the dispute mechanisms within trade agreements that utilize extrajudicial tribunals to challenge government policies.

A special social media action, through a Twitter thunderclap, or a social media message said at the same time, is taking place on 4 November, celebrating the Paris Agreement coming into force and also inviting people to sign the Interfaith statement.

Many people are already changing their priorities and their lifestyles to protect the globe, said the WCC's Tveit.

"So many are with us, physically or symbolically, on a pilgrimage of climate justice and peace," he said.

"We believe that we have the potential to do what is just for the poor, those who contribute the least to emissions yet suffer the most. We believe that we have been given by God, the Creator, this responsibility - but also the capacity to change."

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