German pilgrims underline call for climate justice

By agency reporter
October 16, 2015

“It would be a scandal if the Climate Conference in Paris would not deliver what is needed,” said the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), during a public event in Lengerich, Germany on 13 October.

Tveit was referring to an international agreement, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be signed by world leaders during the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21), to be held in the capital of France later this year.

As part of a wide ecumenical alliance that wants to highlight the call for climate justice in the visible sign of an equitable agreement signed in Paris, a pilgrimage from Germany to Paris began in June. It will reach the French capital on 27 November. On 13 October, the pilgrims walked from Osnabrück to Lengerich, where a public event was organised with the participation of ecumenical leaders.

“Get up and go! – the ecumenical pilgrimage for Climate Justice” wishes to draw attention to the climate pilgrims on their journey in support of the global dimension of climate change, to stimulate discussion of the social impacts of climate change and to call attention to this visible sign of an equitable new agreement.

“Negotiators in Paris and their governments must know that our engagement for climate justice will not stop with Paris. Our movement will not get weaker, but it will rather grow in the case of their failure to deliver”, said Tveit during his greetings to the pilgrims and participants in the event.

Tveit’s words were of encouragement in support of both full and occasional participants in the pilgrimage, reminding them that they are taking part in a wider initiative. He shared examples of similar initiatives that already have taken place in New York, Norway, the Pacific and Africa.

“You are part of an even bigger movement for justice and peace,” said Tveit, as he referred to the call of the 2013 assembly of the WCC to churches and all people of good will to join in a pilgrimage of justice and peace. “Our faith convictions express and nurture the hope for the future, for the next generations, for one earth and for one humanity as strong motivation to take action,” he added.

For the head executive of the WCC, the call to climate justice is closely related to the need for human rights to be strongly emphasised at the COP 21 talks. “Those who have contributed least to climate change may have the highest cost to pay, losing their livelihoods, access to food, water, security for their children. This is probably the greatest threat to basic human rights in the decades to come”, he said.

Tveit went on to emphasise that the urgency of the climate agenda transcends boundaries of North and South and requires the mutual and full engagement of all humanity.

“Neither in the North nor in the South can the challenges for the globe and humanity be seen primarily from only one of these perspectives”, said Tveit. “We who live in rich countries need to change our lifestyle patterns. Those in vulnerable countries should have the means to build resilience and to adapt”.

Other prominent speakers at the event were Bishop Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chairperson of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Karin Kortmann, vice-president of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZDK) and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Emmanuel of France.

* The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2012 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 110 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.



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