Tag Archives: Paris COP-21

Christian Witness at the Paris Climate Summit

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.

CRC delegates to the Paris COP-21 conduct internet confernce with the folks back home

CRC delegates to the Paris COP-21 conduct internet confernce with the folks back home

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.

Why I’m in Paris: Climate Justice

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

Bishop Ephraim Tendero addressing the Paris climate summit

Bishop Ephraim Tendero addressing paties at the  Paris climate summit

Today, we at the Paris climate summit were privileged to hear from Bishop Efraim Tendero, Pesident of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA). In addition to leading the 600-million-member WEA, Bishop “Eff” serves as the presiding Bishop of the Philippines. And so his lecture, titled “Climate Justice,” rings with special authority, as the nation of the Philippines leads a bloc of nations that claim to be the most harmed by climate change. That bloc, called the V20, is demanding justice from polluting countries that are causing them harm.

Indeed, it has long been recognized that poorer countries are most vulnerable to climate change, without having contributed meaningfully to its causes. Bishop Eff noted that China and the US account for 42% of global greenhouse gas emissions. By contrast, the low-lying Philippines account for only 0.28% of those pollutants. And while the big polluters will indeed suffer in a world of climate disruption, it is the Philippines which are already being devastated by monster storms like Typhoon Haiyan.

The leader of the WEA isn’t the only one telling this story, either. The Global Climate Risk Index, maintained by GermanWatch, ranks countries by the harm they have suffered from climate change. In the last 20 years, the Philippines has ranked fifth in the world in climate damage, behind Honduras, Burma, Haiti and Nicaragua. In fact, of the ten most affected countries, nine were developing countries in the low-income group. The red circles on the map below highlight the hotspots, with Bangladesh, Vietnam, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Pakistan rounding out the ten countries with the dubious honor of paying most heavily for the cost of our oil and coal binge in China and the US.

The Christian witness at this global gathering is meaningful and visible. And with the voice of leaders like Bishop Tendero, the evangelical world is now demanding justice for the poor, in an increasingly inhospitable world.

Why I’m Going to Paris

Many of you know that I am joining with Christians from many churches, missions and relief agencies in an effort organized by the global evangelical Lausanne Movement in Paris next week.

We’ll be bringing prayerful gospel support and witness to the nearly 200 nations gathered there to forge a plan of action to address the climate crisis. 179 of them have already submitted plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The US – one of the biggest polluters – has pledged to cut emissions 26% from 2005 levels by 2025. Japan and Europe have also promised strong action. And the developing world, led by China and India, is also on board, with plans to cap emissions by specific dates, as they pull their people out of poverty.

These may be the biggest plans the world has ever made together to confront any problem. But they’re still not nearly enough. Without enacting these pledges, the world will likely be 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit hotter by 2100. That’s enough to make a city like New York as hot as Orlando, or Boston as hot as Charlotte.

But even with these plans, the world will be 6.3% hotter by the end of the century, turning Atlanta into Vegas, or Dallas into Phoenix. No one wants to think about what Phoenix or Miami would be like (although Miami is a special case, since it would then be part of the Atlantic Ocean). And no one wants to think about the species and human populations who inhabit all these places, suffering the impact of dramatic changes at unprecedented speed.

Picture2The global goal has been to keep global temperature increases to 3.6 degrees F. So we still have a long way to go. We will have to ratchet up commitments over time, hold our leaders accountable, invest in new energy technologies, and reexamine our lifestyles for the sake of the creation, for millions of species, and for our children. And we will have to fend off efforts here in America to gut even these modest plans, funded by energy companies whose business model presumes an unending oil and coal binge.

This isn’t a problem for technocrats alone. This calls for transformation of people; for what Pope Francis calls “an ecological conversion.” It calls for us to listen to the National Association of Evangelicals, which has called us to renounce destructive consumption habits, and to persuade our governments to address climate pollution.

So I’m going to Paris to listen, to pray, to resist and support. I’m going to communicate in a small way that God’s church cares about His creation with its beautiful but threatened web of interconnected life. I’m going to affirm that the Earth is the Lord’s, and that in Christ He is reconciling all things that are broken and tainted. I’m going to stand with the poorest countries bearing the brunt of environmental disruption.

I’ll be posting on Facebook and Twitter regularly regularly over the next couple of weeks, and on ClimateCaretakers.org. If you want to hear my updates, just respond to this post, or shoot me an email, or “like” Beloved Planet’s Facebook page, and I’ll make sure you’re in the loop. And I would be so glad if you would pray for me and my companions. If you aren’t so sure about prayer, I’d be glad for your kind thoughts, or a word of encouragement.

81 Leading Companies Commit to Climate Action

Today, the White House announced that 81 companies have signed on to the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, with specific details. A few weeks ago, we announced that the tally had risen to 34, with huge names like J&J, Nike and Starbucks having added their names. But now, it’s become the Who’s Who of global corporate brands, each making specific commitments of varying degrees to cut climate-warming impacts like carbon & methane emissions, deforestation and waste throughout the supply chain.

The White House announcement summarized the 81 commitments as follows:

These 81 companies have operations in all 50 statesemploy over 9 million people, represent more than $3 trillion in annual revenue, and have a combined market capitalization of over $5 trillion.

By signing the American Business Act on Climate pledge, these companies are:

  • Voicing support for a strong Paris outcome. The pledge recognizes those countries that have already put forward climate targets, and voices support for a strong outcome in the Paris climate negotiations.
  • Demonstrating an ongoing commitment to climate action. As part of this initiative, each company is announcing significant pledges to reduce their emissions, increase low-carbon investments, deploy more clean energy, and take other actions to build more sustainable businesses and tackle climate change.

    Walmart among 81 global companies committed to climate action

    Walmart among 81 companies committed to climate action

In fairness, the commitments vary. They range from Ag giant Cargill (5% energy efficiency improvement by 2020 — begging for more muscle) to Apple (already 100% carbon-free, committing to more clean power). While Congress tries to undermine the Paris commitments before they’re finalized, industry leaders are acting despite government resistance.

Leaders from three signatories — IKEA, Best Buy and PG&E — held a round table discussion today on their plans. It’s clear that they’re way ahead of US lawmakers on the need for bold action. Each agreed that the ultimate success of these plans hinges on some level of government action to place a price on carbon emissions, so that climate pollution is no longer free.

Still, without any legislative action, and despite congressional threats to torpedo global agreements in Paris this year, industry sees what has to be done, and they’re beginning to act. We’ve prayed, and we’ve demanded action. We’re thankful today for hopeful answers.