Friday, November 10, 2017

Fijian Methodists call for prayers for COP23

Climate change is impacting significantly on the island nations in the Pacific. Fiji has taken on the role of Presidency of the Conference of Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and has asked for prayers. 

Fijian Methodists call for prayers for COP23 (source: WCC)

As the world convenes in Bonn, Germany for the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Methodist Church in Fiji issued a statement calling for Methodists around the world to join in prayer for the country’s leadership and for the talanoa process of negotiations which will take place over the next two weeks.

Talanoa, meaning storytelling and dialogue, is a continuing process of building relationships and understanding and presenting outcomes to date. At COP23, this methodology is being used to address Fiji’s calls for climate justice.

The statement released on 2 November appeals for prayers “for States to take bold action to rapidly reduce emissions, in line with the 1.5°C goal, for an effective facilitative dialogue that could speed the advance to low-carbon economies and for increased and innovative public and private finance to enable achievement of the 1.5C target”.

Expressing support to the government of Fiji as the country assumes the presidency of the COP, the statement also calls upon the nations of the world to stand with Fiji as it amplifies the voices of vulnerable Pacific small island states and coastal cities and to endorse the COP23 Multifaith Charter prepared by the faith communities of Fiji in partnership with the COP23 Presidency Secretariat.

“As the nations…gather for COP23 under the presidency of Fiji, it is our common hope and constant prayer, as people of faith, that the reflections and discernment and life- affirming responses of such spirituality remain as critically important as scientific and political conversations in the decision-making processes during COP23”.

The Methodist Church in Fiji is represented at COP23 by Rev. James Bhagwan, who has been involved in faith and climate change work for the last decade and is part of the World Council of Churches delegation.

COP23 Multi-Faith charter
Multi-Faith Charter
As believers from several of the world’s faiths, we come together to express our deep concern over the warming climate that threatens the Earth, and especially our vulnerable seas and islands, which we hold in trust. We believe that we are not owners of the earth, but are its custodians, and that we are entrusted by the Creator with the stewardship of this planet. We are responsible for the care of our rivers and oceans and all the flora and creatures that depend on the earth for life. We cannot fail to leave a healthy planet to our children and all future generations.

The scientific community’s consensus that climate change is caused by human activity is a call to action for all the nations of the earth. We confess that we have been poor stewards and that humankind’s wasteful behavior and unsustainable lifestyles have led to the crisis we are living today: climate change and massive loss of species – fish, corals, wild creatures – and degradation of forests, coastlines, glaciers and clean water sources. As custodians of this great planet, it is our moral and ethical responsibility to collectively take urgent action to do all that is possible to combat climate change and save our planet and humanity.

The responsibility is ours, and the solutions lie in our hands through the scientific and technical knowledge we have amassed, in partnership with the traditional wisdom of indigenous peoples and the spiritual insights of people of faith the world over. We must sacrifice our current self-centered attitude and unsustainable habits and consumption patterns. We must now find and keep within us the will to do what is ethically and morally right, the foresight to forgo immediate gains for the greater good, and the hope that we can pass on to our children a legacy of living in harmony with nature.

We commit to work within our faith communities to encourage our people to take all actions necessary to consume resources responsibly, protect the world’s biodiversity and help reduce carbon emissions. Our faith challenges us individually and collectively to commit to this task in our daily lives. We will also encourage the faithful—and all people—to press their leaders for action at the international, regional and local levels to curb carbon emissions, to build community adaptation and resilience to impacts of climate change, and to adopt policies that will educate and encourage each individual to do his or her part.

It cannot be denied that there is an urgent moral and spiritual imperative to act decisively now. Our people need the assurance of a safer and more sustainable future for themselves and their children. We strongly call on all political leaders to redouble their commitments to act and, where necessary, show the courage that leadership demands. We affirm the statements made by faith communities over the history of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention. Specifically, we reaffirm the interfaith statement made in Marrakesh at COP22.

* Urgently ask States to take bold action to rapidly reduce emissions, in line with the 1.5°C goal
* Seek an effective Facilitative Dialogue that delivers:
   - greater pre-2020 ambition
   - improved NDC post-2020 emission reduction targets
   - speeding the advance to net zero emission economies
   - increased and innovative public and private finance to enable achievement of the 1.5°C goal
   - Urge the global community to support through sustainable financing, capacity building and  technology transfer for ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation, and disaster risk reduction as cost effective tools for all small island developing nations

We warmly invite and encourage all men and women and groups of good will to endorse this statement.

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