Originally published on Eden Keeper.
Yesterday, the Dalai Lama released a video urging world leaders to take strong action at the UN climate talks starting on November 30 in Paris. The Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader is one of growing number of religious leaders, including Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew, to call for immediate climate action.
While acknowledging humanity’s great accomplishments in the fields of technology and science in recent years, the Dalai Lama said with a laugh that “we also create more human made problems.” But his characteristically light-hearted attitude didn’t undercut the seriousness of his message. He admonished those who look to God or Buddha for help with climate change as “illogical.”
“Logically, human beings have the responsibility to reduce these problems and finally eliminate these problems because we created them,” he said.
Like Pope Francis’s plea for younger generations to take more action in his environmental encyclical, the Dalai Lama also appealed to the young to “take a more active role in protecting this planet, including the Tibetan plateau.” We can only pray that world leaders will actually listen to these hopeful young voices, though.
It’s no secret that it’s been hard for the global community to come to a consensus about how to address climate change. Although the United Nations has scheduled yearly conferences since 1992 for countries to assess their progress in dealing with climate change, no comprehensive, legally binding agreement has taken effect. In 1997, the Kyoto protocol was signed, but the United States never ratified it, which limits its impact. And the commitments produced at the fiasco which was the Copenhagen summit only run until 2020 and require substantially less cuts than the ones scientists say are needed.
This year’s Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris is crucial. Some scientists have warned that unless an international agreement is reached this year, we may not be able to keep global temperatures below a 2°C average and avoid catastrophic climate change. Faith communities around the world have prayed, fasted, rallied, and marched to encourage leaders to make COP21 different from its predecessor conferences.
The Dalai Lama is more than a spiritual leader — he is a public figure whose influence extends beyond Tibetan Buddhists. His call for climate action is incredibly important as global leaders put together their final plans for COP21. Let us hope they listen to people around the world who want them to commit to protecting our planet.
Reprinted with permission.