“No man is an island, entire of itself; every
man is a piece of the continent, a part of the
main. If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory
were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or
of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes
me, because I am involved in mankind, and
therefore never send to know for whom the bell
tolls; it tolls for thee.” – John Donne
Astrid Schwietering from CIDSE blogging from New York
By the time the clock struck 12:30pm today the CIDSE-Caritas Internationalis delegation had already met with the UK Minister for Climate and Energy Ed Miliband, the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, and the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Mr Yvo de Boer. Each of them received a copy of the delegation’s statement and a symbolic miniature church bell to remind them that the church bells would ring across the world for climate justice on December 13th.
The delegation was well received by all, who recognised the special nature of the combination of expert practioners working with impacts of climate change and religious leaders from all continents. Partners were able to speak out, giving examples of the challenges their communities are facing, and emphasizing the need for public support for climate action in developing countries.
On a sobering note, all accepted and professed to share our moral call and the need for urgent action, recognizing that what countries are proposing is not enough, but the policy makers of course returned to the expected adage, ‘how can we commit more until others move?’. And so the delegation stressed the need for leaders to give the negotiations the highest political priority over the coming months and to commit to going to Copenhagen to build the political will for an ambitious and effective agreement.
Imagine our surprise when Ed Miliband said yes, indeed, Gordon Brown has just decided he will do so! This is a great message to be able to bring to other governments we meet with – to encourage them to step up as Gordon Brown has done.
Yvo de Boer admitted that the human face is totally off the radar of the negotiation at the moment and that it is all about energy, economic growth etc and that is actually upon us to bring back the human dimension while noting at the same time that politicians will only be able to commit to bold actions if they feel they’ve got sufficient public support for it. He also said that while not denying importance of adaptation we shall not forget about mitigation noting the case of India and access to electricity and the problem of dirty fuels such as coal.
We were also represented at the Global Interfaith Gathering with a call to action to the UN Summit on Climate Change, leaders from the major faiths and religions of the world, from Buddhism to Jainism, and from indigenous peoples to Roman Catholics, came together to share prayer and call on political leaders to take action on climate change. The service was both colourful – with music and poetry – and sober – with stark testimonies from climate witnesses, silence &reflection. Religious leaders came together to declare how we, as human beings, share in the earth and have responsibility to care for it – speaking in response to the climate witness Ms Ulamila Kurai Wragg from the Cook Islands, Archbishop Onaiyekan said how we are all together in one boat, and that political leaders must realize – as religious leaders from across the world have – that we must work together to act on climate change. Mr Olav Kjorven, UN Assistant Secretary General gave a response at the end of the service, and acknowledged that politicians must indeed realise the importance to act now on climate change and to act for people and the earth.
Some of us than rushed to the opening of Climate Week NYC with Ban Ki-moon, Tony Blair, the American, Indian & Chinese lead negotiator, Kumi Naidoo from GCCA/tcktcktck giving a very inspiring input representing civil society on the panel. While Bishop Gomes was interviewed, Paul Chitnis and Cardinal O’Brien met with Douglas Alexander. I tell you, we try our best to keep them busy!
No time for a lunch break as in the afternoon the CIDSE-Caritas Internationalis panel discussion on adaptation, ‘Reducing Vulnerability, Enhancing Resilience’, co-sponsored by US partners Maryknoll, the Church World Service, Center of Concern and United Methodist Women, took place. In a big bright room with a view of the Hudson river more than 50 people gathered to hear Janet Mangera from Kenya and Nafisa D’Souza from India talk about the adaptation work that they are doing, the challenges they face and their priorities for the future. Bishop Ramazzini from Guatemala and Swami Agnivesh from India provided a perfect complement to the practioners views – with reflective and rousing talks on the foibles and failures of the fossil-fuel, consumption based development model we have allowed ourselves to become stuck with. Swami ended by highlighting the CIDSE-Caritas Internationalis campaign slogan, ‘Create a Climate for Justice’, but told us we should make one small addition, ‘Create a Climate for Justice – Unlimited’!
Bernd Nilles, Janet Mangera and Bishop Gomes went to the Global Premiere of the movie ‘The Age of Stupid’ walking up and down the green carpet with NY A-list celebrities! It was a fantastic opportunity to get into the mainstream media and they’ve done a fantastic job too. Well, needless to say that all of them did so throughout the day!