COP and the Cloth: The Role of Religion at the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

Authors: David Krantz*, Arizona State University
Topics: Religion, Environmental Perception, Global Change
Keywords: Religion, Faith, Climate, Sustainability, Global Politics, COP, UNFCCC, Environment
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Johnson, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The 2015 papal encyclical on climate change, Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home, brought renewed attention to the potential of religion to impact global climate-change policy, but how do the environmental laws and traditions of religions play themselves out on the global climate-change-policy stage? What tactics does the faith-based environmental movement utilize at international climate-change negotiations? What sorts of religious texts, if any, do the religious groups use for their work? Who are the major players? And how do international climate-change negotiators respond to the faith-based environmental movement? In short, what is the role of religious faith at the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change?

To begin to answer these questions, as an observer-participant I attended COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco, in November 2016 and COP 23 in Bonn, Germany, in November 2017. At the latter, I interviewed about 20 faith leaders representing a variety of different faiths, while simultaneously participating in interfaith meetings as a representative of a New York-based Jewish-environmental organization. Through the interviews I tried to decipher intent, strategy and the faith leaders’ perceptions of their own impacts. In addition to the interviews, this paper also will draw upon participation in both formal and informal faith-based events organized at the COP and faith organizations’ statements on COP and the climate.

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