Environmental Engagement

Environmental Emergency Declaration

A grave environmental crisis confront us all. Climate change is a result of our collective human activity triggering an environmental disaster on a planetary scale. And it is happening faster than many thought possible.

The science is now clear and non-negotiable. Urgent action is needed. This means transformative change throughout society, to reduce emissions and stabilise temperatures so that we might build a safer and healthier future for all.

We see the progressive extinction of species and the destruction of habitat and natural environments by human action as a violation of the first two precepts of our Buddhist practice: not killing and not stealing. We are all intimately connected with, and mutually responsible for, the ecosystems around us.

Each week at meditation we chant vows to abandon greed, hatred and ignorance and to save the many beings of this beautiful world. This is our commitment. We will not stand by complacently but want to share the responsibility of managing the crisis.

The Sydney Zen Centre therefore declares a climate emergency, and supports the global community’s committed action to addressing climate change.

Engaged Buddhist Responses to Climate Change

The information below was supplied by the speakers at a series of talks, called Wake Up!, that the Sydney Zen Centre held in May 2019.

Over the four evenings updates were given on the latest scientific information about climate change, we focussed on solutions and discussed the sangha’s active involvement in addressing climate change. We also explored how our Zen practice offers inner transformation and healing as well as providing resilience, clarity and strength in the face of change and difficult times.

The speakers and local scientists were:

Dr Rosalie Chapple is from UNSW Masters of Environmental Management Program and Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute, and Dr Helen Redmond is from Doctors for the Environment.

Dr Sally Gillespie spoke about the psychological experience of ongoing climate change engagement drawing on her doctoral research and upcoming book “Climate Change and Consciousness: Re-imagining ourselves in our world” and Janet Laurence described how she expresses her environmental activism through art.

Sue Holmes is an economist, a former Assistant Commissioner of the Productivity Commission, co-ordinator of Get Up North Sydney and an active participant in the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change; Kenneth McLeod spoke about Anthropocene Transitions; and Professor of climate and energy governance at ANU, Dr Neil Gunningham, asked can the climate movement achieve transformational social change?

Dr Beth Hill, is a social researcher studying the cultural and psychological dimensions of climate change adaptation and mitigation, and Dr John Merson from the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute spoke about auditing homes and businesses.


Doctors for the Environment Australia
TEDx Darlinghurst – Dr Helen Redmond – ‘Should you talk to your doctor about Climate Change?’

Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute

Low Carbon Living Co-operative Research Centre

Low Carbon Living Australia

Ecologic – calculate your carbon footprint and get your free energy plan

Climate and Health Alliance

The Climate Council

350.Org Australia

Market Forces

Extinction Rebellion – Non-violent action

Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) 


Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, ed Paul Hawken, 2017 Talk by Paul Hawken

Transforming Violence: Linking local and global peacemaking, ed. Judy Zimmerman Herr & Robert Herr l998

Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life, Marshall Rosenberg, 2003

Engage: Exploring Nonviolent Living – a project of Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service, 2005

Bearing Witness: A Zen Master’s Lessons in Making Peace, Bernie Glassman, 1998

Ecodharma Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis, David R. Loy, Wisdom Publications

Thich Nhat Hanh: 

Lotus in a Sea of Fire, a Buddhist Proposal for Peace, l967

The Miracle of Mindfulness, l975

Peace is Every Step, l990

Being Peace, l987

The Art of Power, 2007

Learning True Love:  How I Learned and Practiced Social Change in Vietnam, l993

Joanna Macy:  

Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age, pub.  New Society Publishers, 1983

World as Lover, World as Self, pub. Parallax Press, l991

Coming Back to Life:  Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World, pub. New Society Publishers, l998

Widening Circles – a Memoir, 2000

Mutual Causality in Buddhism and general systems theory, l991

Active Hope:  How to face the mess we’re in without going crazy, 2012