African faith leaders call for action on climate change

June 15, 2011

NAIROBI

World leaders must set binding targets for phasing out fossil fuels and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to less than one degree centigrade as a measure of slowing down global warming, African faith leaders have said.

The leaders, meeting under the auspices of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) and the Program for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA), gathered June 7-8 at the United Nations complex in Nairobi. They discussed how climate change will be addressed at the 17th Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Durban, South Africa in November.

“We call on you to refute the myth that action to cut emissions is too expensive, when it is cheaper than the long term costs on inaction,” said the leaders in a June 8 statement, which also issued a wide range of recommendations.

Scientific reports suggest climate change is the greatest threat to humanity ever, according to the leaders, with the world agreed that global warming of 2.5 degrees centigrade to 4 degrees centigrade by 2100 would be catastrophic.

“Progress in negotiations has not matched the scale of the crisis. There appears to be a deadlock between competing political and economic interests. We believe that to break this deadlock, new perspectives are required,” said the leaders, who also called for moral vision for the future of humanity and all life.

Earlier Anglican bishop Geoffrey Davies, South African Faith Communities' Environment Institute executive director, had urged the leaders to set a moral compass for 21st Century and give the “African COP [Conference of Parties]” direction.

“Negotiators will say they believe in justice and equity, but when it comes to implementing it, it comes to naught because we maintain a huge injustice and inequality for both people and planet,” Davies told the nearly 150 delegates June 7. “I believe we faith leaders have something very important to say to the world,” he said.

The AACC and PROCMURA organized the meeting which the United Nations Environmental Programme hosted. The leaders warned that a world dominated by consumerism and gross inequalities could not be sustained. “It is not that resources are limited ... God has provided enough for human needs, but not enough for human greed,” said the Rev. Johnson Mbillah, PROCMURA’s executive director.

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