We have the solutions – we need to implement them. But more than just technical solutions, we need the highest moral and ethical standards to guide our actions – because climate change is as much a spiritual crisis as an environmental one.
That was the message of this inspiring panel discussion organised by the Brahma Kumaris at COP28 this morning, in which FaithInvest CEO Dr Lorna Gold was a speaker.
The Brahma Kumaris, a global spiritual movement founded in India in 1937 and dedicated to personal transformation and world renewal, have become a major advocate for renewable energy in India, having implemented different forms of sustainable energy in their centres for nearly 30 years.
'If we all followed moral and ethical standards, I am sure this climate conference would be a success' – Golo Pilz
Golo Pilz, the Brahma Kumaris' Advisor on Renewable Energy, shared photographs of some of the organisation's solar steam cooking systems, including this one (below) installed in 1999, which is still used to cook 35,000 meals each day.
This is just one of many renewable energy initiatives implemented by the Brahma Kumaris, including solar power, biogas and waste management. Other activities include proviing training and education on solar technology to local engineers, planting two million trees, and a sustainable yogic farming project.
Golo Pilz said the Brahma Kumaris followed the principle that the highest moral and ethical standards should guide all their actions and policies: 'If we all followed moral and ethical standards, I am sure this climate conference would be a success.'
One family and one home
Echoing his words, Sister Jayanti said we have a spiritual crisis arising from commercialism, greed and division. 'From the perspective of spirituality, the world is one family, the planet is one home for all of us, and we have the responsibility of taking care of nature, which is sacred, and all forms of life, which are sacred.'
She invited people to think of their family as wider than their immediate relatives, and to ask themselves: 'Am I treating all within the community as my family?', adding: 'I don't see how it is possible to reduce emissions unless, together, we understand that it is one family and one home for all of us.'
Clean energy needed for all
'Investment in renewable energy has increased significantly over the past decade, but most has taken place in wealthy countries, leaving poorer countries behind' – Dr Lorna Gold
Dr Lorna Gold said it was very timely that this discussion was taking after the Climate Tracker Initiative session 'which decisively highlighted the fact that we are heading in the wrong direction, with many countries investing in the expansion of fossil fuels, and making it virtually impossible for the world, unless something changes at COP, to stick within the 1.5C target.
'Investment in renewable energy has increased significantly over the past decade, but most of the increase in clean energy investment since 2021 has taken place in wealthy countries, leaving poorer countries behind and ensuring that a considerable portion of the world's population remains at the margins in the transition to a clean energy future.'
Lorna said limiting temperature rises to no more than 1.5C would require global investment of more than US$5 trillion per annum until 2050, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
Achieving this 'is not a technological or economic challenge or opportunity; it's a moral challenge', she said. 'In Laudato Si’ and just recently in Laudate Deum, Pope Francis cautioned against a technocratic paradigm to how we address climate breakdown and the energy transition.
'If the energy transition is not based on authenticity, ethics and values... we will see the most vulnerable, communities on the margins bearing the costs of the transition' – Dr Lorna Gold
'Energy transition is not just an opportunity to invest in new technologies but to invest in a future that aligns with our deepest values – including social justice, human rights, responsibility, stewardship, earth-care.'
To this end, our investments should not only bring financial returns but also contribute to the wellbeing of our planet and its inhabitants, she said.
More to be done
'At FaithInvest, we believe in the power of deeply held faith values and the power of faith-consistent investing,' she said. 'We invite faith-based investors to ask themselves: are our investments contributing to a better, more sustainable world?'
But while faith-based organisations may have good intentions with their investments, Lorna said they need to go further in terms of practice. FaithInvest's own research found that just 45% of over 100 faith organisations surveyed made NO mention of their faith in their investment policy, she said.
'This means they are pretty much precluded from pursuing any strategies to align their ethical values and beliefs with their investments. We believe that this needs to change and can change. There is a growing environmental movement within the faiths and we need to support that in terms of the implementation across investment practices.'
You can watch a recording of the discussion, which lasted 20-25 minutes, by clicking below.