By Sam Alston
Some young people go to Paris for romance, others to see the sites – yet more to taste exquisite French food and drink. Later this month, a delegation from LJY-Netzer – the youth movement of Liberal Judaism – will head across the Channel, but not for any of these things.
Instead, we’ll join the call for action on climate change alongside other youth groups including RSY-Netzer, NOAM, FZY and the UJS. The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in the French capital from November 30 to December 11.
It is the continuation of a process that began in 1992, the year before I was born. That was when the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was negotiated at the ‘Earth Summit’ in Rio de Janeiro. That became the 1997 Kyoto protocol – the only global agreement on climate change – which ratified and brought into effect in 2005.
However, there are problems with Kyoto, among them the fact the USA and Australia never joined and China and India did not have to make emissions cuts. A successor deal then broke down – literally in tears – in 2009. A summit earlier this year in New York was more successful and has put the world’s countries into the stages of final negotiations – which will be concluded in Paris.
All that is well and good, but well may you ask why, as Jews, you are going over there?
Climate change is a universal problem, not one specific to our religious grouping. I would argue that some of the most important commandments are those which outline our responsibility to our fellow human beings.
One of the first things we find out in Genesis, is our responsibility to improve and protect the world. Some people show their Judaism by the way they pray or the food they eat, but for LJY-Netzer, a very important part of our Judaism is how we treat others and the better world we want to leave for our children.
There is a strong ethical idea in Jewish law that God has made us the stewards of the land. It’s with this in mind that we head to Paris.
• Sam Alston is a movement worker for LJY- Netzer, the youth movement of Liberal Judaism