Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Climate Conferences and the Church

The United Nations Climate Conference opened in Cancun on Monday of this week. It’s been nearly a year since the last round of climate talks in Copenhagen. This blog’s post  at the beginning of that conference talked about finding hope in the midst of despair about the very real possibility that not enough would be done about climate change soon enough to avert global catastrophe. With the disappointments of the Copenhagen talks and recent scientific reports – e.g. “World could heat up 4 degrees C in fifty years -- showing that climate change is proceeding more rapidly than predicted, the need for action has become even more urgent than it was a year ago.

Religious leaders in Scotland sent a letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron saying that the failure of western nations to help developing nations cope with climate change is a “moral outrage”  . The religious leaders have asked UK leaders to help ensure more successful talks this year in Cancun, saying that every day that passes without significant help sees lives "affected and even lost".  A World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation is in Cancun bearing the Christian message that humanity is called to care for creation and for the world’s most vulnerable people.

Frustration with the political failure in addressing climate change and its effects has led to increasing calls for grassroots action outside of the traditional political framework. In particular, some people are looking to the faith community to provide leadership as the moral dimensions of this crisis become clearer.  

An Episcopal News Service piece by The Rev. P. Joshua Griffin  tells about a gathering of Episcopalians and Anglicans to be held in San Pedro de Macoris in our companion Diocese of the Dominican Republic December 7-10. This gathering will address some of the moral questions around the intersection of poverty and climate change and begin discerning “how our church might model justice and global reconciliation given the harsh ecological realities facing our world.

And there’s the question for all of us: how do we as a church model – and communicate – justice and reconciliation for a world very much in need of leadership in addressing climate change and its effects? In a world made much more complicated by climate change, how do we live out our baptismal covenant to strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being? 

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