Jewish Climate Change Campaign launched with vegetable oil-powered bus

23 Oct 2009

UN Representatives gathered outside their headquarters in New York today to send off a vegetable oil-powered bus on a cross-country tour. The bus is being driven by members of Hazon, the U.S.'s largest Jewish environmental non-profit, and the send-off marks the launch of the Jewish Climate Change Campaign in the USA.

The Campaign is part of a greater effort to mobilize the world’s religious and cultural communities in run-up to the UN’s Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December. UNDP and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation are supporting religious institutions and organizations around the world in the development of seven-year climate change mitigation plans that aim to bring ideas of conservation and renewal into people’s everyday lives.

“Across the world, religious groups can have a tremendous impact on how the world faces up to the challenge of climate change,” said Stéphene Dujarric, Director of UNDP’s Office of Communications, who took part in the send-off. “They have an ability to influence people’s social behaviours, they own outright around eight percent of the habitable surface of the planet and they have founded, run or contribute to over half of all schools worldwide.”

Religious groups “are also the third largest category of investors in the world,” he continued. “All of that adds up to the possibilities that the faiths could help motivate the largest civil society movement the world has ever seen.”

The Hazon bus will make hundreds of stops across the country in the coming months at synagogues and Jewish organizations in an attempt to drum up more partners for the Campaign. The bus itself, dubbed the ‘Topsy Turvy Bus,’ is equipped with worm-filled compost bins, solar panels for electricity needs and a human-powered bicycle generator that the group will use for educational purposes along the way.

The Campaign’s plan includes proposals such as cutting meat intake by followers of Judaism by half, reducing Jewish energy consumption, travel and carbon input by 10 percent in 2010 and an additional 20 percent by 2015 and integrating environmental education into rabbinical and education schools.

Hazon will be among 30 religious groups presenting seven-year plan to combat climate change next week at a meeting of world religious leaders at Windsor Castle in the United Kingdom. The meeting is at the invitation of the HRH Prince Philip and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and was initiated in advance of the Copenhagen Conference.

For more information:

Alliance of Religions and Conservation: www.arcworld.org

Jewish Climate Change Campaign: www.hazon.org

Teva Learning Center: tevalearningcenter.org