Durban outcome is not enough, says WCC

In a statement read on 9 December to
government members from around the world at the United Nations climate summit
in Durban, South Africa, the World Council of Churches (WCC) reaffirmed the
need for a fair, ambitious and binding treaty to effectively address climate
change effects on vulnerable communities.

“In Durban, religious communities have come together in various ways to express that climate change is also a moral and spiritual crisis. We proclaim together: We have faith. Act now for climate justice” the statement requested.

It was read to the High Level segment of the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by Elias Crisostomo Abramides, from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

During these last two weeks the WCC delegation to COP17, which ended on Sunday in Durban, highlighted the theological, ethical and spiritual dimensions of climate change through various activities.

Expressing his views regarding the COP17, the WCC general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said, “Though a minimum deal was achieved at the last minute to keep the Kyoto Protocol, make some steps towards a new legally binding agreement in 2015, and implement the Green Climate Fund, the overall Durban outcome is far from being enough to respond to the currently disappearing countries and future generations.”

“We need to listen to vulnerable countries and populations, and think of the legacy we are leaving to our children. Churches should continue to act and pray, especially during this time when we prepare for Christmas, the event when God sent his Son, Jesus, to save our
beloved planet,” he added.

On Saturday, 3 December some 200-300 people associated with the ecumenical “Time for Climate Justice” campaign joined thousands of other peaceful demonstrators marching through the streets of Durban to voice the civil society demands on climate change.

Interfaith advocacy for climate justice

On the following day an interfaith celebration included prayers from Baha’i, Brahma Kumaris, Buddhist, Christian,Hindu, Jewish and Muslim leaders.

At a workshop organized at Durban’s Diakonia Centre, Metropolitan Seraphim of Zimbabwe, from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, asked: “Isn’t the work for the care of the creation and against climate change and poverty a
concrete way of building the visible unity of the church?”

Dr Guillermo Kerber, WCC programme executive on Care for Creation and Climate Justice, stressed that once again the negotiations have not met the expectations of the poorest and most affected countries, churches and the civil society at large.

“We are still very far from the committed response that vulnerable communities and regions affected by climate change need to see from the international community in order to address the challenges posed by climate change. Some of the industrialized countries have prevented a more ambitious and effective regime. The decision of Canada of
withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol is an example of the failure of the
negotiations”.

When asked what story of hope he would point out, Kerber said: “At this COP, the Youth for Eco-Justice (Y4EJ) showed the enthusiasm and commitment of the young generation to bridge the gap between eco-justice activities at the congregations with advocacy at the global level.”

The Y4EJ, organized jointly by the WCC and the Lutheran World Federation, brought together 30 young adults from all over the world for training, field visits and interaction with COP17.