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COP21 High Level Dialogue

An address by the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit on behalf of Faith-Based Organizations at the United Nations climate summit in Paris.

08 December 2015

An address by Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, on behalf of faith-based organizations

Paris, France

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We have hope, and the right to hope.

We who represent faith-based communities around the world look to you in these days. Often, we remind you of the truth about human failure and our responsibility. You already have received the statement from faith and spiritual leaders to COP21. Today’s simple message is that we have hope for a better world.

The people around the world who suffer today from the effects of climate change, and will do so tomorrow, have hope and the right to hope that you will make significant contributions to reduce the world’s carbon emissions.

I observe a common understanding: that this is a moment of truth. There is no discussion here of whether climate change is a result of human activity. Therefore, we have a responsibility to change it. This is a sign of hope.

Before coming to Paris, I visited Chennai, India. Many have lost lives, homes and belongings. As usual, the poor are the most vulnerable. In southern Norway and in the United Kingdom, we have had unprecedented floods the last weekend; many people have been evacuated from their homes. We represent all these, and many others, who suffer loss and damage from climate change. You know that we must change. That is another reason to hope.

We also have hope because changes are happening already. Many are changing their priorities and their life styles to protect the globe. So many are with us, physically or symbolically, on a pilgrimage of climate justice and peace.

Many in the financial and business sectors are changing their investments and practices. They are turning towards de-carbonization, renewable energy, and new methods of production and transportation. The green shift is already happening. We all must follow suit. The next generations are depending on us.

We believe that we have the potential to do what is just for the poor, those who contribute the least to emissions yet suffer the most. We believe that we have been given by God, the Creator, this responsibility - but also the capacity to change.

COP 21 must offer clear signals and regulations to drastically reduce the carbon emissions from human-based activity. You can. We also believe that you can put the interests of the whole of humanity and creation before your own national interests. We believe that you will serve the world by showing the best of human creativity and capacity.

We believe you must, you can and you will. We have hope. We have reasons to hope. We have the right to hope.