Interfaith Coalition Helps Americans Battle Climate Change in Global South

A U.S.-based coalition of religious groups announced last weekend a new campaign to get Americans involved with battling the effects of climate change in the Global South.

Launched by Interfaith Power and Light (IPL), a national campaign representing more than 10,000 congregations and 30 state affiliates, the Carbon Covenant is currently funding projects in Cameroon, Cambodia, Tanzania and Ghana.

"We're not waiting for a treaty. The climate can't wait, and creation can't wait," said the Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham, president and founder of Interfaith Power and Light. "Right now all over the developing world people's lives, homes, and livelihoods are being threatened."

"And it's often people living subsistence lifestyles -- those who have contributed the least to global warming -- who are suffering the most," she said.

Activities sponsored by the campaign currently include tree planting and teaching seminars on how to live alternative, sustainable livelihoods.

In 2004, the World Bank estimated that deforestation contributes up to 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with the greatest losses occurring in tropical countries

According to IPL, the replanting of trees in tropical countries can remove large quantities of carbon dioxide from the air quickly since vegetation there grows quickly.

In summing up the project, Bingham said, "Instead of a treaty, we have a covenant, and it's off to a great start."

The Interfaith Power and Light effort began in 1998 as Episcopal Power and Light, operating under the support of San Francisco-based Grace Cathedral. The campaign developed into an interfaith initiative encompassing California in 2001, growing to a nationwide campaign in 2005.

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