Durban talks need leadership not politicking, says church leader

By staff writers
December 10, 2011

As the United Nations climate change conference (COP17) draws to a close in Durban, South Africa, the United Church of Canada’s Moderator, Mardi Tindal, writes in her daily blog that “the longing to see more leadership than politics runs deep here.”

The message was reinforced last night by dozens of environmental activists who assembled to call loudly on Durban delegates to 'Act Now' and 'Don't Kill Africa', before they were bundled away by police.

Ms Tindal ihas been attending the COP17 conference as part of an international delegation of church leaders representing the World Council of Churches.

She writes, “At a religious leaders’ press conference this morning a journalist asked me about what is standing in the way of moral leadership from Canada. I said that we as Canadians must convince our minister and our other political leaders that we will follow them when they do the right things; that the political cost of giving climate change leadership is not as great as they might fear.”

Tindal and fellow Canadian church leader the Rev Willard Metzger, General Secretary of the Mennonite Church Canada, met with the Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent yesterday to discuss their views on Canada’s role in addressing the problem of global climate change.

She writes that there was some reassurance in yesterday’s meeting. “The minister understands and accepts the science of climate change and the magnitude of the problem. He spoke of ‘real urgency’ and ‘a disaster in the making.’”

She adds, however, that she left yesterday’s meeting feeling no more assured about Canada’s willingness to give leadership.

“When asked about the moral and social justice frame within which Canada’s position can be understood, the minister’s answers were political: ‘We’re proud of our resources, our regulations, and our shared prosperity.’ He spoke of how Canada is ‘fulfilling our obligations.’ There are many who have good reason to take issue with him on this point,” writes Tindal.

Tindal concludes her blog by saying that there is still reason for hope and need for prayer.

“This [South Africa] is the land of miracles where leaders have risen in the confidence that when they do the right things the people will follow. South Africa did not achieve what it has with leaders who fearfully calculated political costs. It is up to us as citizens to make it clear that we will support the moral leadership for which we long.”

* To read the full text of Tindal’s blog, visit


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