Note: Hundreds of Christian churches, denominations and ministries are present at the COP-21 Paris climate summit. The following story is from the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), The CRCNA has just updated their fellow congregants back home on the ups and downs in the Paris negotiations.
Here in Paris, it’s 3:00 AM. A group of hardy friends from the Christian Reformed Church are meeting electronically with 200 of their fellow congregants who have joined the Climate Witness Project in North America to review and pray for the Paris worldwide negotiations on climate change.
Michelle Nieviadomy, of the Cree First Nation in Saskatchewan, tells the gathered CRCNA that in the Dene First Nation language, there is no word for “climate change.” Instead, the word for “strange happenings” is used. Raccoons showing up in habitats that have never seen them before. Fish covered with cancers. Seasonal changes occurring out of sequence. The CRCNA represents many indigenous Christians. They lament that indigenous communities around the world are largely being shut out of the process, but efforts continue.
The CRCNA is bearing witness to the reality that God is here in Paris, that he loves his world, that the church is deeply concerned about God’s creation and his people. Negotiators are surprised and encouraged to find that Christian denominations, churches and organizations are such a strong presence in these negotiations. The churches of Paris, from Notre Dame de Paris, to St. Michaels Anglican, to L’Eglise Baptiste are alive with Christians meeting to pray, worship and plan.
151 national presidents from around the world spoke to the Paris COP-21, expressing support for the negotiations and the global effort to rein in greenhouse gases to keep worldwide warming to within 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Presidents of island nations Kiribati and Maldives spoke of it being too late, and that their islands will have to be abandoned — their people permanent exiles from the rising seas.
Major questions remain about finance for the Green Climate Fund to finance clean energy and adaptation in poor nations. The US has offered $3.0 billion, funding for which US Congress leaders have sworn to oppose. Comparatively tiny Canada has nearly matched the US ambition, offering $2.7 billion, with no recalcitrant legislature to prevent them. Rich countries, which have prospered while polluting the world’s atmosphere with greenhouse gases, are facing worldwide calls to recognize the cost being borne by the world’s poorest countries, who have done little to cause it.
Thanks to the CRCNA for your excellent work here in Paris, and your faithful witness to God’s love for his creation.