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VANCOUVER - Faith leaders from across Canada and across the religious spectrum are calling on Canada to be a leader at the Copenhagen climate change summit.

"As faith leaders, we believe that unchecked climate change is the greatest threat to peace and prosperity for our world," more than 170 faith leaders say in a joint statement to the Canadian government. The leaders are calling on the government of Canada and other world leaders to seek a constructive solution at the current Copenhagen climate talks to ensure global greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to safe levels based on the best scientific information.

"Climate change will have the greatest impact on the world's poorest people, on those least responsible for the problem," says Mardi Tindall, Moderator of the United Church of Canada. "We're raising our voices because we believe we can build a better world, a world based on justice, fairness, and respect for people and the planet."

Faith leaders say they are taking action in their own communities to address climate change but acknowledge they can't do it alone and are therefore calling on the federal government to show leadership at the UN climate summit. "We are calling on the Canadian government and other world leaders to sign onto a strong deal in Copenhagen to address climate change for the sake of our environment, economy, and the health of Canadians," the statement reads.

The effects of climate change include severe famine and hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing from regions that can no longer support human survival. This presents a great threat to world peace as conflict over natural resources such as water and food increases. This presents a great threat to world peace as conflict over natural resources such as water and food increases.

The leaders say that a strong climate treaty is part of our responsibility as stewards of the Earth. "Let us take the path in that builds peace, creates green jobs, fosters healthy communities, lifts millions out of poverty, and puts renewable energy into the hands of citizens around the world," the statement says. Those who signed the statement include leaders from Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, First Nations, and multi-denominational Christian communities, as well as theologians and leaders of faith-based charitable and interfaith organizations.

"There are strong moral reasons for Canada to act on climate change," says Ian Bruce, David Suzuki Foundation climate specialist. "Our country is one of the top ten global warming polluters and doesn't yet have an effective action plan in place. But the Prime Minister can turn that around," according to Mr. Bruce.

"Canada can break the deadlock at the UN summit in Copenhagen by committing to stronger science-based targets and backing that up with an effective national action plan," says Mr. Bruce.

Faith leaders are joining a chorus of Canadians from Olympic athletes to doctors, nurses and citizens and schools calling the Prime Minister to take responsible action on climate change.

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For more information, contact:

Kristen Ostling, Communications Specialist, Climate Change and Clean Energy, David Suzuki Foundation, kostling@davidsuzuki.org

Note to Editors:
The full statement and list of signatories is available at: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/climate-change/science/canada-climate-change/joint-faith-leaders-declaration-on-climate-change/index.php

December 15, 2009