Churches aim to promote change at Cancun climate talks

By agency reporter
25 Nov 2010

A World Council of Churches delegation says its aim is to promote 'spiritual values' at the crucial 2010 climate talks in Cancun, Mexico.

After the Copenhagen summit's failure to deliver a fair, ambitious and binding treaty in 2009, this year's conference is anticipated with cautious hope by many.

In a joint effort with other Christian organisations which will be present at the Conference of Parties (COP) 16 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Cancun, the 14-strong WCC delegation will highlight the Christian message that humanity is called to care for creation and for the most vulnerable people.

The WCC delegation includes representatives of churches and church-related organisations from Europe, Russia, the United States, Latin America and Asia. Mohammad Abdus Sabur of the Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN) will bring an Islamic perspective to the delegation.

Tackling climate change has become a focal point of interfaith cooperation in recent years and was identified as a common concern at a high-level Christian-Muslim conference in November.

Besides lobbying during the COP 16 negotiations, the following activities are being organised:

On Saturday 4 December, the ecumenical coalition will invite conference participants and local people to an interfaith celebration.

Then on Thursday 7 December, (11:30 a.m. – 13 p.m., Room Monarca, Cancunmesse) the WCC, ACT Alliance and Caritas Internationalis will organise a side event on faith-based climate advocacy, including a case study on Nicaragua and interfaith theological approaches from Christian and Muslim perspectives.

The event is co-sponsored by AMAN, Church of Sweden and the Andean Ecumenical Higher Institute of Theology (ISEAT). Speakers include: Abdus Sabur, AMAN, Thailand; Abraham Colque, ISEAT, Bolivia; Carlos Cardenas, CEPADE, Nicaragua.

On Friday 10 December, the WCC is scheduled to present a statement to the plenary of high-level government representatives. The message will remind them that at the end of the third millennium's first decade, there must be no more delay of action on climate change. It will also express the hope that spiritual values will help overcome an economic model based on over-consumption and greed.

"We hope that this conference will achieve agreement on a package including technology transfer, mitigation and adaptation measures as well as instruments for reporting emissions, that would enable us to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius," said Dr Guillermo Kerber, WCC programme executive on climate change, ahead of the event.

In 2009, the WCC and a coalition of other church-related organisations ensured a strong Christian testimony at the UN conference, including an ecumenical celebration attended by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, members of the Danish government, conference participants and a plethora of religious leaders, which took place in the Copenhagen cathedral as thousands of congregations around the world were ringing their bells for climate justice.

This year, groups and individuals worldwide are called to express their commitment by adding their face and message to a photo petition for strong international action on climate change.

[Ekk/3]

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