WCC at COP27

WCC at COP27

The conference has been held annually since the first UN Climate agreement in 1992. It is used by governments to agree on policies to limit global temperature rises and adapt to impacts associated with climate change. The selection of Egypt as a host country attracted controversy ahead of the summit due to the country’s human rights record.

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as conference of the Parties, or COP27, will be the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference. It will be held at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from 6 to 18 November 2022. More than 90 heads of state and representatives of 190 countries are expected to attend. 

The conference has been held annually since the first UN climate agreement in 1992. It is used by governments to agree on policies to limit global temperature rises and adapt to impacts associated with climate change. The selection of Egypt as a host country attracted controversy ahead of the summit due to the country’s human rights record.

The conference will be the first COP to take place in Africa since 2016, when COP22 was held in Marrakesh.  

In September 2022, the WCC 11th Assembly published a statement, “The Living Planet: seeking a just and sustainable global community,” that raises an increasingly urgent voice of concern, and demand for action, to address the climate emergency and environmental degradation that particularly impact the lives of vulnerable communities, as well as young and indigenous people. 

While attending COP27, the WCC will raise its prophetic voice and bring to light good practices and strong testimonies from voices of the ecumenical fellowship. 

The WCC delegation will also add spiritual dimension and underline the need for both scientific and religious aspects to cope with climate change and promote climate justice. 

As The Living Planet statement notes, we are all interdependent in God’s whole creation. “The climate emergency is an ethical, moral and spiritual crisis, manifested in a fixation on profit,” the statement notes. “The extractive and, ultimately, unsustainable systems of production and consumption, by those complicit in this crisis, continue to ignore increasing scientific, and moral warnings.”

Statement issued by the WCC 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany.

The Living Planet: seeking a just and sustainable global community

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it;

for he founded it on the seas and established it on the water”. (Psalm 24)

“…cease to do evil and learn to do right; Purse justice and champion the oppressed.

Give the orphan his rights to plead the widow’s case”. (Isaiah 1:16b-17)

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all the creation”.

(Mark 16:15)

Together we believe…

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. Human beings, created in God’s own image, are called to serve as faithful and responsible care-takers of God’s precious unique creation, of which we are at the same time an inherent part and inextricably dependent on the health of the whole natural world. A narrow anthropocentric understanding of our relationship with creation must be revised to a whole of life understanding, to achieve a sustainable global ecosystem. We are all interdependent in God’s whole creation. As Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and  unity we are called metanoia and a renewed and just relationship with Creation that expresses itself in our practical life. 

We are running out of time for this metanoia to take place.The central committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC), meeting in June this year, noted the pacific Island of Kiribati, facing rising sea-levels had declared a State of Natural Disaster due to a prolonged drought. As we gather for the 11th Assembly of the WCC, our sisters and brothers in Pakistan face the heaviest rainfall in living memory and flooding that has killed 1,162 people, injured 3,554 and displaced 33 million!

Four years of failed rains in the Horn of Africa have put 22 million people at risk of starvation.

In Europe, a drought unprecedented in 500 years has affected large swathes of the continent. Such extreme weather and accompanying humanitarian crises are the alarm bells of a Climate Emergency. Moreover, instability and increased competition for resources resulting from climate change is a public health emergency. Having been recognized as a leading cause of human mortality and morbidity. Climate-induced displacement, relocation and migration is no longer a matter of if or when, but is occurring now.

These lived realities bear testimony to the numerous reports by the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Climate Emergency is an ethical, moral and spiritual crisis manifested in a fixation on profit. The extractive and ultimately, unsustainable systems of production and consumption, by those complicit in this crisis, continue to ignore increasing scientific, and moral warnings. 

We are running out of time

We must repent from our continuing human selfishness, greed, denial of facts and apathy, which threatens the life of all creation.

We are running out of time.

This Assembly is the last chance we have to act together to prevent the planet from becoming the planet from becoming uninhabitable.  In particular, no further delay is possible if we are to have any chance of staying within the safer limit of +1.5°C global warming and of avoiding vastly more catastrophic climate change. 

Christ’s love calls us to deep solidarity, and a quest for justice for those who have contributed to this emergency, the least yet suffer  the most, physically, existentially, and ecologically, through a transformation of systems and lifestyles. Our theology must respond to an emergency of such dimensions.

Indigenous Peoples are among the first to face the direct consequences of climate change, due to their dependence upon, and close relationship with, the environment and its resources. However, Indigeneous Peoples and the role they play in combating climate change through the restoration of the wholeness of the creation, are rarely considered. This must change, through a reimagining and deconstructing of the prevailing worldview. 

Action that does not recognize historic responsibilities for the drivers of the climate emergency and environmental degradation, and the injustice perpetrated against poor and vulnerable communities who are suffering the worst impacts while having the smallest carbon footprints, cannot qualify as faithful stewardship. 

Article originally appeared in People’s Reporter, an ecumenical fortnightly. Published here with permission. Image Courtesy: Gjermund Øystese/WCC.

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