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On the Ethics of International Religious/Spiritual Gatherings and Academic Conferencing in the Era of Global Warming: A Case Study of the Parliament of The World’s Religions Melbourne 2009 - Part 1*

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Global climate change and its impacts have ethical dimensions, for instance carbon footprint equity concerns. World issues, including the state of the ecosphere and biodiver­sity, regularly see political leaders, NGOs, business representatives, religious/spiritual orga­nizations, academics, and others engage in international aviation-dependent meetings to address critical challenges facing humanity and the planet. Yet, climate scientists and advocates call for an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 to cap the increase in global temperatures to 2ºC. Aviation emissions resulting from international meetings raise questions that are not silenced by GHG emissions offsetting. The era of climate change and ‘peak oil’ poses ethical challenges for holding international in-person religious and academic events, especially when the events propound an environmentalist concern and when aviation use is assumed. This paper raises ques­tions regarding the ecological impacts of large international events and focuses the ‘inconvenient truths’ associated with international aviation in the era of global warming. The Parliament of the World’s Religions, the largest multifaith gathering in the world, serves as a case study. The paper emphasizes the view that faith-based/faith-inspired organizations have a special responsibility for leadership in policy and praxis on the moral imperatives of sustainability, sustainable development and climate justice.


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