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13. Climate Action

Climate crisis and daily life

This month's issue scheduled to feature an article on SDG's tenth goal, "Reducing inequality within and among countries." However, even though it was delayed by one year due to the spread of COVID-19, the so-called "COP26" was already held in Glasgow, England from October 31st to November 13th 2021. So, while it is still fresh in your memory, I will push the schedule forward and tell you about the 13th SDG's goal, "Strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related disasters." COP is an abbreviation for "Conference of the Parties". It may be named the 26th "Conference of the countries which agreed on the solution to the problems related to climate change". It has a long history, and the first meeting was held in Berlin in 1995.

Britain is out of the EU and the European Union, which may, on the contrary, bring a stimulus to the discussions among the Western European countries. From early on, I was preparing and working with the religious representatives as well as scientists to put together a joint proposal in cooperation with the Vatican. Scientists who have been studying and showing us the new facts about the climate change for many years as well as religious people from various countries and ethnic groups around the world have met on Zoom to share their suggestions.

There was a report from a religious person in the South Pacific claiming that the sea level was rising on a small island due to the rise in temperature, and seawater was rushing to the backyard. It made me realize again that the problem calls for urgent response.

During this year's Soto zen Buddhism Europe Office seminar Ms. Godwin Konjin, Director of the Soto zen International Centre in the United States, gave a lecture on the theme of "Bodhisattva vows and SDG's". At that time, a question was asked, "Isn't that the large international companies try to promote SDGs for their own profit?" There was also a statement in the questionnaire after the conference was held saying, "I don't think it's good for the Soto school to be involved in the SDG's." This was surprising.

What impressed me at the supermarket in Paris was that the shaver was packed in a paper box and placed on a display shelf, therefore it was impossible to seethe object inside. We are trying to avoid packaging in plastic or vinyl as much as we can. It takes some courage to buy without seeing the real thing. Therefore, from the point of view of the seller, the risk factor becomes large. Still, in the areas where we are trying to avoid using plastic and vinyl made from fossil fuels, we can see that we are seriously trying to tackle the climate crisis. In Paris, cars with high carbon dioxide concentration in the exhaust gas cannot drive in the city. Even in Rome, there are areas in the city center where for example only electric cars and some cars can enter. Moving in one specific direction can be very focused and fast, but from what one can hear and see it can be easily said that the direction that has been taken these nowadays is about to change dramatically.

The contents of SDG's are summarized in 17 goals and 169 targets. It is said that this large number comes from the fact that it covers all the issues of humankind. As you know, the wider the coverage, the more conflicting issues are presented to each individual. However, what has been set out as a whole is that "no one will be left behind." I feel that this subject contains extremely religious guidelines. The famous passage of the Lotus Sutra, "All the three-fold world is owned by the Buddha," is a noble sentence also written on the back of the wooden stupas but what it conveys is that "coexistence" of religions has already been repeatedly talked about by numerous intellectuals as one of the modern issues. However, in reality there are huge disparities, contradictions and sense of inequality between economically developed countries and developing countries. Religion is expected to have the power to change this situation.

I can see and feel an extremely religious vow at the root of the SDG's. Is it only my impression? I would like to report on what I told the Pope and other religious people, scientists, politicians, and diplomats at the final meeting held in Vatican on October 4th. It is very short due to time constraints, but I hope you can understand it is one of the point based on the teachings of the Soto school.

Rev. Shoten Minegishi

Rev. Shoten Minegishi

Director of Soto Zen Buddhism Europe Office
Born in Japan, Gunma.
He practiced in Japan in Zuioji Senmon sodo(Ehime pref.) in Japan as a trainee monk and has been a Director of Soto Zen Buddhism Europe office since 2020.