As international leaders met in Paris for COP21, religious leaders in our state came together in a similar act of solidarity. On December 3, 2015, interfaith groups across Texas hosted events during which members of various faith communities shared their traditions’ perspectives on climate change and discussed what it means to come together in pursuit of a common goal: climate justice and sustainability.
The vigils—which took place in houses of worship in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston—opened with readings of excerpts from various traditions’ declarations and statements on climate change. Whether the words came from the Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis, the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change, Pope Francis’s Laudato Sí, or a host of other faiths’ statements, they all communicated consistent themes: religious conviction, solidarity with the most vulnerable, a shared concern for the natural world, and a vision of hope.
Some of the vigils also participated in a call with Bee, Yaira, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, and Austin City Council Member Leslie Pool, who shared stories and encouragement from their time at COP21. The vigils closed with a time of reflection and discussion during which religious leaders grappled with big questions—How do we continue to effect change at a local level? Where do we find hope in the face these challenges?
Now, COP21 has come to a close. The Paris climate agreement signals a profound moment in the history of international climate work, and the presence, witness, and efforts of the faith community helped make this agreement a reality!
Media coverage of the vigils: