Why do I Care?Ethical News News & Features
In a move that many, including key government figures, said was ‘remarkable’, ‘unique’ and ‘historic’, the French Government agreed to use its diplomatic channel to send a letter to the heads of the 195 delegations that will attend the December 2015 UN climate change talks in Paris (Paris COP 2015).
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Come to COP ‘as a person’
The letter, from leading religious and cultural world figures, asks the recipients to ask themselves a single and personal question: Why do I Care?
‘Why are we asking you to do this?’, the letter asks. ‘Because we hope that in answering this question, you will come to the COP primarily as a conscious human being not just a representative of a government or agency. In the end the most important element of this is that we hear from you as a person, a member of the human family who has for a time a uniquely significant role to play in protecting the world.’
Paris Summit of Conscience
The letter was announced at a groundbreaking ‘Summit of Conscience’ in Paris, July 21, hosted by the Elysée Palace, leading French publisher Bayard Press and the UK-based Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC).
‘The Summit of Conscience departs from the place that the climate crisis… cannot be reduced to scientific, technological, economic and political dimensions, however important those are. It is in fact a crisis of meaning.’
François Hollande, President of France
A ‘highly unusual’ event
‘France is one of the most secular governments in the world and for the president and government of France to propose this level of cooperation with the major faiths of the world is highly unusual’, said ARC’s Martin Palmer.
The Summit of Conscience was championed by the French TV personality and environmentalist Nicolas Hulot, appointed President Hollande’s Special Envoy for Climate Change.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s support
Arnold Schwarzenegger supported the Summit and sent a special video in which he talks about his childhood in Austria.
‘I have to admit that I wasn’t always on my best behaviour when my parents brought me to church – I hope that you can forgive me for that – but any time the priest talked about Noah’s Ark, I hung onto every word, I loved the story of Noah building a ship large enough to save every species on Earth. That epic mission captured every fibre of my imagination. And today we have an epic mission of our own.’
The first of many
Already Senator Loren Legarda from the Philippines has pledged to ask her own government to host a Summit of Consciousness, and leading figures from Senegal’s two Muslim majorities (the Confreries Mourids and Tidjanes), who represent some 80% of the population, will ask their government to do the same.
‘The issue of climate change and protecting our planet has largely been taken away from people by governments, by scientists and international agencies making most people feel powerless or even hopeless in the face of all the data.’
Marin Palmer, ARC
An international movement
This is not just a movement for politicians, delegates or people who are already leaders. Bayard, one of France’s largest publishing companies for young people’s magazines, sponsored the costs of the meeting, with editorial staff saying they thought this was a question their young readers would love to answer.
Bayard created a website that invites people from all countries to tell their story in less than 200 words or a one-minute video. This testimony will be added to the words of thousands of others, like a river of personal commitments.
Bayard will also devote many of the autumn editions of its magazines to this theme.
Click here to find out more about the Why do I Care campaign.