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Environmental campaign prepares for UN conference


August 28 2009

A Church environmental group has launched a four-month campaign to pray for the success of an upcoming United Nations conference that will address the problem of global warming.

Father Chang celebrates an open-air Mass to pray for the success of the UN climate conference

Catholic Messengers of Green Consciousness launched the campaign on Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption. It runs until Dec. 31, during which time Catholic individuals and groups are invited to say a special prayer for the success of the UN conference in Copenhagen, fast and attend special lectures.

The Dec. 7-18 UN Climate Change Conference is expected to gather governmental delegates from 170 countries as well as concerned NGOs.

According to Catholic Messengers, the prayer they distributed reminds people to respect and appreciate God's creation. It also calls for repentance for destruction done to nature and urges people to reduce carbon emissions.

The group will hold two lectures and a forum on issues related to the conference that will include Buddhist and Taoist perspectives. These events are scheduled in September and October.

Those who join the campaign are also asked to consider "fasting" on Fridays by eating vegetarian food and abstaining from alcohol and soft drinks.

"A vegetarian diet is healthy for the body and environmentally friendly," explained Father Anthony Chang Sang-loy, director of the Catholic-run Centre for the Re-Search of Faith.

Catholic Messengers is based at the center, which was established in 1997 to study faith issues in the 21st century and promote ecological awareness.

Father Chang, a longtime environmental activist, said he has also called for a "green" timetable to be set by the local Church, because he does not think it has a sense of urgency about environmental protection.

The local Church should add in "green elements" when building or renovating premises and schools, such as using solar power, he suggested.

"This may be expensive as the start," he admitted, "but with a timetable, we could plan and implement it."

Catholic Messengers is one of 12 groups that have banded together as the Hong Kong Combat Climate Change Coalition.

Initiated by Greenpeace China, Oxfam Hong Kong and the World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong, the coalition was established here in May 2009 and has about 550,000 members and supporters.