Cancun: poor communities trust world leaders to deliver climate justice

Uk church leaders at last year's  London rally

Uk church leaders at last year's London rally

Caritas Internationalis is urging governments to make progress on funding for adaption and a fair legally binding deal at the UN conference on climate change in Cancun, Mexico.

The charity fears finalising such a deal this year is unlikely, but Cancun must produce a concrete roadmap to reaching a fair post Kyoto Accord by the end of 2011.

Poor communities vulnerable to extreme weather put their faith in world leaders to deliver climate justice at a summit in Copenhagen one year ago. The outcome was the Copenhagen Accord. It failed to provide the financial commitments to help the most needy adapt to climate change or the cuts in greenhouse gas emission to secure a future for the next generation. Since then, 12 months have been squandered in more talks with little advances made. The poor cannot wait any longer.

Caritas Mexico is lead the Caritas delegation at Cancun. 30 representatives from Caritas organisations in Europe, North America, Africa, Asia, and Latin America will be present. CAFOD is Caritas in England and Wales and will thus be represented.

“The Earth was put under our stewardship. To care of the Earth does not only benefit us, the current generation, but also future generations. It is an act of love and solidarity with future human beings,” said Bishop Gustavo Rodríguez Vega, President of Caritas Mexico and Head of the Caritas Delegation to Cancun.  

Caritas calls on rich countries to meet their financial obligations to developing countries. US$30 billion pledged to jump-start adaption to climate change programmes must be delivered. It must target the poorest communities who do not have the capacity to respond to severe weather conditions they’re already experiencing.

Developed countries must also deliver on their promise of US$100 billion in annual long-term financing by 2020. These funds must be transparent, address national and local priorities and be additional to Overseas Development Aid (ODA). A fair and legally binding global agreement that builds on the Kyoto Protocol on climate change due to end in 2012  is crucial. The agreement must keep global temperature below 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels.  Developed countries must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by more than 40% by 2020 based on 1990 levels. Developing countries must be supported in limiting the growth of their green house gas emissions.

Meanwhile, 30 November saw a gathering of 5,000 people from Cancun’s 500 churches of all denominations who dressed in white and gathered to pray for the planet; the UN delegates charged with saving the planet, and for a peaceful and successful meeting outcome.

That same day Canada earned 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the Fossil of the Day award for killing their climate bill without debate, cutting the only renewable energy support programme and reducing its emissions target – the only country to do so.  The word going round Cancun was that, never in the field of climate change had one country done so little that could cause so much damage!
Note: A US-based website for the Forum on Religion and Ecology has a climate change page, which underscores the urgency of the climate change crisis and the crucial roles that religions must play in constructing ethical worldviews for interacting with other people, species, and the environment in order to serve as a moral force for environmental action.  

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