Rich and powerful countries must accept equity as the basis for international climate change negotiations and if they do, they can help bring all nations to a common agenda, according to Kenyan theologian and ecologist Jesse Mugambi - writes Fredrick Nzwili.
"The poor and weak nations expect exemplary leadership from the rich and powerful, which is hardly ever forthcoming," Nairobi university professor Mugambi has told Ecumenical News International.
"The fact that the COP15 talks in Copenhagen ended without a negotiated agreement building on the Kyoto Protocol indicates clearly the unwillingness on the part of the industrialised countries to accept responsibility for their unfair historical share of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere."
Mugambi spoke to ENI after a speech in Nairobi by Sir John Houghton, a physics professor and former co-chair of the Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Houghton believes strongly in a connection between Christianity and environmentalism and he urged developed countries to recognise that cheap fossil fuel responsible for most carbon dioxide emissions has been the main source of the wealth of the rich nations.
Developed nations, according to Houghton, also need to recognise that climate change disproportionately affects poorer countries. Rich countries should reduce their emissions as soon as possible and provide assistance so poorer nations can adapt to systems of sustainable development.
"Christians who follow Jesus in his great concern for the poor should be in the forefront in pressing for this imperative," said Houghton in the paper.
Mugami said that the global average carbon dioxide emission in every country each year is 4 tons. The emission each year from each of the industrialised countries is 11 tons, almost three times the global average, he added. The United States accounts for 20 tons of carbon dioxide emissions yearly, yet it has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol that seeks to cut back the emission rate.
The Nairobi theologian said that under these circumstances, the poor and weak nations have to do whatever they deem fit, with or without support of the rich and powerful.
"In their poverty and weakness they will have to sustain their faith in God and in themselves as they struggle to adapt to the inevitable global warming," said Mugambi.
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International  is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]