While these Advent days are filled with our best preparations for the coming of Jesus, our world leaders are discussing the fate of our beautiful planet at the Conference of Partners (COP21) in Paris. This annual meeting was born at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 when those gathered adopted the United Nations Framework for Climate Change (UNFCC). Today, membership in the UNFCC has reached an almost-universal 195 countries. The goal of this year’s conference is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.
For COP21, The Episcopal Church is recognized as an “observer organization,” gaining understanding and expertise so that in the future, we may be able to participate more fully. TEC has sent an eight-member delegation which is meeting in the “green zone” – the area where “civil society” meets to advocate, demonstrate, network, hold events and witness to both the visitors and members of the participating nations. Members of our delegation include: the Very Rev. Marc Andrus (CA); Princess Daazhraii Johnson, climate activist and former executive director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee; the Rev. Brandon Mauai, a deacon from the Diocese of North Dakota, former Executive Council member; the Very Rev. Mark Richardson, president and dean of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific; and Bill Slocumb, director of Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers. Attending with the delegation are Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society staff members Alex Baumgarten, director of Public Engagement and Mission Communication; Jayce Hafner, the domestic policy analyst; and Lynnaia Main, officer for global relations. These representatives of our Church will advocate for
- A strong agreement that will reduce global carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, in consonance with The Episcopal Church’s General Convention Resolution 2009-D031.
- A just agreement in which all member states contribute their fair share to lowering global carbon emissions, accounting for the economic and environmental realities within each state.
- That member states fully implement a mechanism to address long-term loss and damage that accounts for needs of particularly vulnerable populations such as internally displaced persons and those rendered stateless.
- That governments leverage public and private funding for carbon emission reduction while maintaining sufficient oversight of these processes to ensure that low-income countries are not harmed.
- That governments act swiftly to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal No.13 on Climate Action and its five targets, which support and complement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process.
Lynnaia Main, global relations officer for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and its liaison to the United Nations told Episcopal News Service: “Member states appreciate that the churches are present at the grassroots in a very authentic way, we are where people gather, where people share their lives with each other. We are not a project, we are not coming in to provide assistance and just leave, we are part of the social fabric of communities, and we have things to say on behalf of those communities … In the U.N. context they understand how important that is that we do bring that authentic voice and understanding.”
The Episcopal News Service has shared more information on COP21 in this week’s article –
By the time you’re reading this blog, the conference will have closed for this year, but that doesn’t mean that you’re too late to get involved! We need your voice to advocate for the Green Climate Fund which will assist some of the world’s most vulnerable countries and the Clean Power Plan to restrict power plant emissions. The Episcopal Public Policy Network has made it easy to speak out. If you go to this link, you can enter your contact information and the EPPN will show you a letter to they will send to your representatives in Congress – http://advocacy.episcopalchurch.org/app/write-a-letter?5&engagementId=134533 It couldn’t be easier!! You can even add your own personal comments to the text to make the letter more your own. And, if you go to this page on EPPN’s website, they list many helpful links for further understanding of these important issues – http://advocacy.episcopalchurch.org/climatechange You will also find the blog posts of our delegation at COP21!
Last week the EPPN also sponsored a webinar about COP21 with interviews from some of the delegation which you can watch here – http://advocacy.episcopalchurch.org/app/document/10560454
Participating in COP21 is another way we live into our Five Marks of Mission to be God’s mission for the world:
The Mission of the Church Is the Mission of Christ
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
“We’re here to demonstrate that climate change is an issue that is a profoundly moral one, that it affects millions and millions and millions of people around the world, that it degrades God’s creation, which is an incredible gift that we are all called to take care of, and so we are here to lift up those concerns,” commented the Rev. Fletcher Harper, executive director of GreenFaith and a priest in the Diocese of Newark.
Good stewardship for the health and well-being of this planet, “our island home,” requires action. If left alone, the effects of warming will displace millions more people, invite increasingly severe weather patterns, and further challenge economic systems. We must become knowledgeable and act. Thank you to all the delegates and friends who are looking to sustain the beauty and wonder of this beautiful Earth. May we, too, take an active role is protecting our planet and her people.
Let us pray –
Heavenly Father, the earth is your creation,
beautiful, vast, teeming with life, and constantly moving.
We treasure this place, we are in awe of it,
we find shelter here, and all that can sustain us.
Help us, Lord, to know how best to care for your earth.
Give us guidance and wisdom
so that we may respect, tend, and nurture
this gift to us, your Earth.
And make us good and wise stewards so that
the next generation and the next after them
will also, here, find home. Amen.
— The Rev. Deacon Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review