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Religious leaders in CNY urge using less fossil fuels to combat climate change

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Religious leaders across central New York have a message on this Earth Day; everyone needs to cut back on fossil fuels to stop runaway climate change.

A statement signed by leaders of a broad spectrum of faiths, from Tibetan Buddhists to Muslims to Christians, urges central New York to start planning a transition away from fossil fuels, now.

"Given the dangers represented  by the continued burning of fossil fuels to the planet we depend upon for life and the importance of the next ten years in keeping the planet under 1.5 degrees centigrade of heating we urge the community in CNY to start  planning  a transition away from fossil fuels now," the leaders said in a statement.

Episcopal Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe said places of worship can be effective leaders on this issue.

"Some of the best ways churches can be engaged is by educating and helping to empower parishioners and people to have a deeper understanding of the need, and share the message so they become advocates in their own right," Duncan-Probe said.

The focus on fossil fuels is key, according to Cornell expert Robert Howarth, who’s on the council trying to figure out how to enforce the New York State Climate Leadership Community Protection Act, which mandates a 40% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030.

"We’re working hard on that,” Howarth said. “And I’m quite optimistic we can meet these goals. But it’s going to take huge participation and buy-in from everyone."

Religious leaders can help with that buy-in by emphasizing the civic, faith and spiritual issues connected to climate change. Oren Lyons of the Onondaga Nation said fending off the worst impacts of the climate crisis depend on it.

"I hope that the public, who we have to depend on for proper response now, will help us and be aware that collectively, we’re looking to the future,” Lyons said.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.