Church people join calls for climate justice during a 'climate walk' in Manila last year. (Photo by Joe Torres)
A Filipino Catholic priest and environmentalist has urged religious leaders to actively help build an "ethical perspective" on global warming.
"Over and above the campaign to provide technical or political solutions, we need to recover the wider ethical context underlying the climate change discourse," said Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines.
Gariguez, recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2012, was speaking before a climate leadership training workshop in Manila, attended by former US Vice President Albert Gore, on March 14.
The priest said climate change is the world's most "urgent and alarming" moral issue today, adding that "faith voices" must seriously engage with the issue to slow the ticking clock of the environmental crisis and to protect life.
"The voices of faith must be an indispensable part of our continuing environmental campaigns, in framing the agenda for collaborative action," said Gariguez.
He said climate change is not only about curbing fossil fuel production and its carbon emissions, expansion of carbon markets, or transitioning to low carbon economies.
"To promote a global sustainable ecology, we need to consider the complex nature of our ethical relationship with the whole environment," said Gariguez.
He said the climate change discourse should "go beyond mere economic and political arena, for it challenges us to look into the realm of the human spirit."
In his encyclical, Laudato Si', Pope Francis highlighted the adverse impacts of climate change on the poor and most vulnerable, and the scale of the climate crisis.
Gariguez said the Philippines, being an archipelago, is prone to climate-induced disasters brought about by rising sea levels, storm surges, prolonged drought and flash floods with poor communities suffering most from the impacts of climate change.
Based on the United Nations Univerisity's 2014 World Risk Report, the Philippines ranked second with the greatest risk to disaster worldwide in terms of climate change vulnerability.
"More than anything that divides us, we can pursue a common agenda to protect our fragile ecosystem from the threat of continuing climate crisis," said Gariguez.
"We have the moral imperative to act. Climate change goes beyond borders. We are all interconnected for we are living on one planet," the priest added.