links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic

Follow us on Twitter


Posted on on May 17th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

Buddhists Taking on Climate Change — The Dalai Lama Endorses the 350 Target!
By Will McKibben,   11 May, 2009

Announcing… “The Time to Act Is Now — a Buddhist Declaration on Climate Change” just launched by our new friends at the Buddhist Climate Project.   This is a truly profound statement (and website, if you ask me).   And it’s most especially exciting to see the Dalai Lama’s official endorsement of the 350 target!

Here is what the website says in the introduction to the declaration:

“In the run-up to the crucial U.N. Climate Treaty Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009, the Declaration that follows will present to the world’s media a unique spiritual view of climate change and our urgent responsibility to address the solutions. It emerged from the contributions of over 20 Buddhist teachers of all traditions to the book A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency. The Time to Act is Now was composed as a pan-Buddhist statement by Zen teacher Dr David Tetsuun Loy and senior Theravadin teacher Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi with scientific input from Dr John Stanley.

The Dalai Lama was the first to sign this Declaration. We invite all concerned members of the international Buddhist community to study the document and add their voice.”

Click here to read the full declaration, (which includes specific mention of the 350 target), and share it with any Buddhists you know!

There is much to report this week about communities of faith joining in the movement for 350 (sneak peak). If you’re not Buddhist, stand by for more interfaith action, but for now, enjoy this news from the Buddhist world.

UPDATE: The Buddhist Declaration — “The Time to Act Is Now” — has generated 800 signatures in it’s first five days online, including 25 Buddhist teachers from all traditions and many countries!


Buddhist Climate Project

Background & Dalai Lama’s Endorsement

Read & Sign it

Contents, Overview, Excerpts

Plant a Tree in the Sheltering Grove

Climate Crisis in Tibet & China

Article of the Month


The Dalai Lama’s Endorsement
of the 350ppm CO2 Target

The background to the letter

In his closing speech to the international climate talks in Poland in December 2008, Al Gore stated that former targets for fighting global warming had been rendered obsolete by new findings, and that 350 parts per million of atmospheric carbon dioxide was the new standard for which the world should aim. His remarks drew the longest applause of the conference.

The 350 target accepts that we are challenged not only to reduce carbon gas emissions, but to actively remove huge quantities of fossil carbon already present in the atmosphere. It represents the upper limit of a safe-climate zone (300–350 ppm) for human civilization. It is the only target so far proposed that is consistent with the avoidance of runaway global warming. The existential challenge we face is expressed as a simple target figure, first defined by NASA’s James Hansen and colleagues in their key 2008 scientific paper, “Target Atmospheric CO2–Where Should Humanity Aim?” which states:

If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2   will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm, but likely less than that… An initial 350 ppm CO2 target may be achievable by phasing out coal use except where CO2 is captured, and adopting agricultural and forestry practices that sequester carbon. If the present overshoot of this target CO2 is not brief, there is a possibility of seeding irreversible catastrophic effects.

At many sites around the world, such as Mauna Loa in Hawaii, scientists
have measured man-made increases in the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, the
main driver of global warming. Atmospheric carbon dioxide fluctuates
annually, because more is “drawn down” during summer by large Northern
Hemisphere forests. The annual cycle, shown in the inset figure, appears as
“saw-teeth” behind the yearly average rise.

The pre-industrial atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide was 280
ppm (parts per million).The current level is 387 ppm—the highest for 650,000
years, long before the modern human species appeared. It is still increasing, by
2 ppm per year. Where should humanity aim? The safe-climate target for
atmospheric carbon dioxide is 350 ppm, the level that avoids the possibility of
runaway warming and maintains the planet we know.
The Dalai Lama’s letter

We are honored to present here the Dalai Lama’s official letter of endorsement of the 350 ppm target. Among the growing list of other international figures supporting this target are Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Indian environmental leader Dr. Vandana Shiva, Canadian biologist and broadcaster Dr.David Suzuki, Dr.Hermann Scheer, chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy, and SheilaWatt-Cloutier, chairperson of the Inuit Circumpolar Council.

Read more

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a comment for this article