WCC climate change group plans advocacy strategy
Members of the Working Group on Climate Change together with Rev. Dr Olav Fkyse Tveit at the WCC headquarters in Geneva. © Henrik Grape/WCC
Oct 10, 2016
Speaking at the opening of the meeting of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Working Group on Climate Change (WGCC), Rev. Dr Olav Fkyse Tveit, WCC general secretary, emphasized the importance of facing climate justice issues with spiritual commitment and multidisciplinary collaborative preparedness. “Christians should look at climate change challenges through the lens of faith and hope in God’s love”, he reflected.
Comprised of church experts, theologians and campaigners working for climate justice from around the world, the WGCC met in Geneva from 28 to 29 September to finalize its advocacy plan for the 22nd Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) taking place next month in Marrakesh, Morocco, as well as to discuss key strategies for the next two years.
Reporting on the ratification process, Rev. Henrik Grape, who coordinates the WGCC, shared the news that the European Parliament had just voted to ratify the Paris agreement. Adopted by UN member countries last December, the groundbreaking accord aims to limit global warming to below two degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels to prevent catastrophic climate change.
The Paris agreement comes into force when at least 55 countries, representing 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, have ratified it. To date, according to the UNFCCC website, 72 countries accounting for more than 56 percent of the global emissions have officially joined the agreement.
“From now on, our urgent task is to follow up the implementation of the Paris agreement not least at the national levels and to provide advocacy assistance to our church members who are on the ground,” Grape said.
“As churches we must ensure that the Paris accord as implemented gives concrete support and protection to the socio-economically vulnerable who contribute least to global emissions and yet who are most hurt by climate change,” added Athena Peralta, WCC programme executive for economic and ecological justice.
The WGCC identified as priorities areas for theological reflection, research and action the contextualization of climate justice, deepening and making visible the intrinsic connection between climate justice and economic justice, learning from indigenous spiritualities and practices in caring for creation, and intensifying interfaith dialogue and action in responding to the challenges posed by climate change.
Further, the WGCC launched its new book published by the WCC titled “Making Peace with the Earth: Action and Advocacy for Climate Justice”. The book includes 22 articles contributed by theologians and activists, bringing insights on how Christian churches and interfaith partners are addressing climate change.
At the closing of the meeting, Prof. Isabel Apawo Phiri, WCC associate general secretary for Public Witness and Diakonia, reminded the WGCC that climate justice issues are linked with water, food, human rights and gender justice. All of these are key to sustainability, she said.