COP21: A moral issue
The last day of November marks the first day of the COP21 climate talks in Paris.
Much media coverage has proceeded today, and we have become acclimatised to religious leaders, in particular, calling climate change a moral issue. Pope Francis in his edict, the Encyclical, released earlier this year, urged that “the climate is a common good, belonging to all, and meant for all.”
In the Pacific, the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma has dedicated the month of November to prayer and action for the climate; and church leaders led the climate march through the streets of Suva on Saturday. The President, Rev. Dr. Tevita Banivanua, said: “We ask for God’s wisdom and strength for those of our people from Fiji and the Pacific who will be speaking for us in Paris.”
And from the COP21 venue, the General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, Rev. Francois Pihaatae says: “Our way of life is in danger, our existence as islands is under threat; the impacts of climate change are upon us, we must act justly, and act now.”
Many in Pacific secular leadership also share this ethical outlook. The Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Dr. Colin Tukuitonga noted: “This is not a scientific, economic or political issue. This is a moral issue in terms of the livelihood and the lives of the people of the region”.
And the Prime Minister of Fiji, Rear Admiral Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, also in attendance at COP21, was more forthright recently in his assessment of the situation: “We in the Pacific are innocent bystanders in the greatest act of folly of any age […], all because of the inaction and gross irresponsibility of what I have unashamedly called ‘the coalition of the selfish’.”
Yet Paris this year will be a very different COP to previous meetings. There will be no civil-society marches for me to chase, no outside, side events to distract, and therefore, fewer opportunities for Pacific voices to make a climate impact.
Please pray for the negotiations, for moral justice to prevail, and that any outcome agreement will be fair and legally-binding for all.
Dr. Julia Edwards, at COP21, Paris
Interim Coordinator, Pacific Conference of Churches, Stewardship Program