To mark Earth Day (22 April 2009), the humanitarian agency Church World Service is backing immediate action to fight climate change by participating in a national postcard ‘Countdown to Copenhagen’ advocacy campaign aimed at the Obama administration and members of Congress.
A similar campaign has been run across Europe focused on the governments there. In Britain, it is backed by Christian Aid among other civic, green and religious groups.
The agency’s initiative urges people to send President Barack Obama and lawmakers in Washington the following message: “Please attend the upcoming global summit on climate change; agree to cut carbon emissions that cause climate change; and provide fair and just funding to help poor countries deal with global warming.”
The agreement, to be worked out at the December 2009 meeting of world leaders in Copenhagen, Denmark, would replace the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement on climate change which expires in 2012.
The Church World Service campaign, part of a broader ‘Enough for All’ initiative, also outlines lifestyle changes to which individuals can commit to in order to reduce their own carbon footprints.
The message to Obama on the postcards asks him to attend the Copenhagen summit personally "to demonstrate how much we care about our global family and our willingness to do what it takes to address this challenge with compassion and resolution."
People can pledge support and send the postcards for President Obama over the internet or through the mail. They will be delivered to the White House by Church World Service.
The Rev John L. McCullough, Executive Director and CEO of Church World Service, recently spoke about climate change at an international gathering of peace and justice advocates assembled in Washington DC for the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days.
He told the group: "For people of faith, Copenhagen, as it is casually referred to, represents a theological and moral dilemma over carbon emissions and the unfettered greenhouse gases from power plants, factories and motor vehicles that are causing the earth’s temperature to rise, polar caps to melt, and oceans to rise: formula for an unprecedented human and ecological disaster. Does that sound like a doomsday scenario? Well then, hear it for what it portends."
CLimate campaigners say that the world's poorest people, in industrialized and developing nations, contribute the least to climate change but suffer the most, in the form of more frequent and severe drought, flooding, and water shortages, which result in failed crops, destroyed communities and epidemics.
Meanwhile, industrialized nations most responsible for climate change have not provided adequate financial assistance to help poorer nations reduce emissions as their countries struggle to develop and to help them adapt to climate change.
So far, the USA has refused to sign on to climate change agreements, citing the cost of compliance as a reason.
"Americans need to do more than just confess complicity. When four percent of the global population is responsible for 25 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions, it means they have the power to affect substantive change," says McCullough.
Response to the campaign has been "very enthusiastic," says Church World Service director of education and advocacy Rajyashri Waghray. "CWS regional offices, our nationwide fund raising CROP Hunger Walk groups, member denominations and communions, local congregations, partners and allies have been getting the postcards signed as a part of their climate change awareness efforts."
Waghray adds: "The simple act of signing the card and writing a letter truly helps get us closer to a resolution on an agreement in December so I strongly urge anyone who feels a sense of responsibility to humanity and creation to join the Countdown to Copenhagen postcard campaign."
Earlier this month the Annual Convocation of the Alliance of Baptists provided 500 postcards for people to sign. The Albany, New York, CROP Hunger Walk Committee has endorsed the idea of having a Countdown to Copenhagen display and cards to sign at its 3 May hunger walk.
The campaign, also being conducted by faith groups and development agencies around the world, is endorsed by the 35 member communions of Church World Service, including the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Church of the Brethren, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ and The United Methodist Church.
Individuals and organizations concerned about climate change can learn more about Church World Service’s ‘Enough for All’ initiative, view resources and pledge support for the Countdown to Copenhagen component of the initiative at http://www.countdown2copenhagen.org/ .