“We believe that you will serve the world by showing the best of human creativity and capacity”, said Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), on 8 December in his address to the High Level Segment of the COP21 international climate conference in Paris.
Tveit was speaking on behalf of more than 150 leaders from various religious traditions on all inhabited continents who signed a statement last October which they submitted to Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The WCC general secretary pointed out that COP21 is “the right moment for real and visionary leadership, and it is an irrefutable moral duty for all governments to agree on concrete and measurable steps towards global climate justice and partnerships for climate resilience.”
The Statement of Faith and Spiritual Leaders to the High-Level Ministerial Segment of the COP21, mentioned by Tveit, was previously distributed by the UNFCCC to all parties negotiating in Paris.
The signatories of the statement called for a fair, ambitious and binding global deal applicable to all countries to phase out greenhouse gas emissions and phase in 100% renewable energy by the middle of the century, to stay below 1.5-2°C of warming above pre-industrial levels.
“COP21 is the right time to initiate an unprecedented individual and structural transformation,” added Tveit, speaking of hope and the “moment of truth” that COP21 represents.
“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”, he said.
Tveit’s message of hope also acknowledged changes that already are happening worldwide.
“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”, he said.
Tveit went on and shared that many in the financial and business sectors are changing their investments and practices, 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,” Tveit concluded.
Earlier the same day, Tveit attended the 7th Sustainable Innovation Forum, at the Stade de France, promoted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). He was one of the speakers on a round table addressing the role of ethics & faith in climate solutions. He also met privately with environmentalist, former U.S. vice-president, and Nobel peace laureate Al Gore.