WHILE the governments of the world continued negotiations toward
a global climate deal in Bonn, faith leaders met in Paris - the
city where, it is hoped, the deal will be signed next December, to
launch the Fast for the Climate campaign.
Inspired by the two-week fast by the leader of the Philippines
delegation, Yeb Sano, at last year's summit in Warsaw (News, 22
November), faith groups responded by agreeing to fast on the
first of every month until the deal was struck at the Paris
At the international campaign launch, Mr Sano, who was moved to
tears in Warsaw by the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, said
people of faith had a vital role to play.
"It was Victor Hugo who once wrote that 'No force on earth can
stop an idea whose time has come.' Fast for the Climate is an idea
whose time has come. Nothing can stop the indignation and righteous
anger of the world's peoples against climate injustice. Nothing can
stop the fervent prayers of communities around the world. Nothing
can stop this global solidarity. No force on earth can stop this
"Next year, here in Paris, we decide the future of the world. We
have two clear choices: to halt climate change in its tracks, or to
let it spiral into an unmanageable menace. Climate change is the
defining issue of our generation. Our generation will be judged by
our response to this challenge."
Among the hundreds of people who have signed up are faith
leaders, including the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo
Makgoba, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches,
Olav Fykse Tveit, and the Bishop of Peru, the Rt Revd William
At the launch was the President of the French Protestant
Federation, Francois Clavairoly, who co-chairs the Council of
Christian Churches in France. He said: "The strength of the message
from Christians will be even better understood if we stand united
within our community and beyond Christianity with those who have
The talks in Bonn, which conclude on Sunday, have taken place
amid renewed optimism after the announcement by President Obama
that the United States' Environment Protection Agency would limit
emissions from coal-fired power plants.
The legislation was welcomed by the Presiding Bishop of the
Episcopal Church in the United States, Dr Katharine Jefferts
Schori, and the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America, the Revd Elizabeth A. Eaton. In a joint statement they
said: "Our faith traditions teach us that no single person can be
whole unless all have the opportunity for full and abundant life.
That wholeness and collective well-being is only possible as a
"We recognise our connections to fellow citizens and neighbours
around the world who are already suffering from the consequences of
climate change, and acknowledge our responsibility to those yet
unborn, who will either benefit from our efforts to curb carbon
emissions or suffer from our failure to address this ethical
imperative. We believe that addressing climate change is a moral
obligation to our neighbours and to God's creation."
In Bonn, progress was made on ensuring that "equity" would be a
part of any Paris agreement. Some rich developed countries have
pushed back on the idea that they should do more to tackle climate
change because of their historical responsibility in creating the
The senior climate-change adviser at Christian Aid, Mohamed
Adow, said: "The good news is that the issue of equity, or climate
justice, is now on the table. We now need countries to agree how
this will be included in the 2015 agreement with countries most
responsible doing the heavy lifting. There was also good discussion
about how to help poor countries adapt to the changes in climate
they are already experiencing.
"But the world is not on track to keep global temperature-rise
to below two degrees Celsius, the level deemed as dangerous climate
change. . . Countries must ratchet up their energy-efficiency and
renewable-energy commitments to close this ambition gap."