Tensions are mounting at UN talks on climate change in Copenhagen as world leaders head to the Danish capital.
Talks went late into the night with little sign of compromise. Much work now faces the Heads of State as they arrive for the final days of the conference which wraps up on Friday.
Civil society organizations were livid after organizers reduced the size of ngo delegations and made gaining entry into the Bella Centre a trial of eight hour queues in freezing conditions to only be told registration was closed.
It went down as well as a snow ball in the face, but a lot more icy. If you’d come from South Africa on the understanding you’d be allowed entry, you’d understandably be irked.
Caritas Europa President Fr Erny Gillen was one of the many left out in the cold on Monday, even though he was an official speaker at a Caritas-World Council of Churches event to present the view from the churches. Luckily, police relented just in time and let Fr Gillen through with minutes to spare to give his presentation.
One warm drink later, Fr Gillen told a packed room of 400 delegates that the guidance already provided by Catholic Social Teaching was a road map to creating a better relationship between us and the planet.
“The Copenhagen leitmotiv says: ‘We have the power to save the World.’ If we understand this sentence in a pure technical way, we misunderstand the message. We will not have to invent new rockets or new medications to repair climate. We have the power to change our lifestyles now!” he said.
Fr Gillen spoke about the important message people of faith were sending the Copenhagen summit.
Then yesterday, in a message for the World Day of Peace on January the 1st, sent to Heads of State in time for the climate talks, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the responsibility of developed countries for climate change.
In his statement he said that it is ‘all too evident that large numbers of people in different countries and areas of our planet are experiencing increased hardship because of the negligence or refusal of many others to exercise responsible stewardship over the environment.’
World leaders must now lead. History will remember them kindly if they get a deal that safeguards our planet and the poor. Nobody will remember them if they fail, because unless action is soon civilization as we understand it will be over.
It’s something Fr Michael Mackenzie of Kiribati understands too well. He was at Copenhagen to explain that his island nation will be uninhabitable as sea levels rise.
“For us climate change is no longer a theory, it is real. We live with it every day. It is threatening our people,” said Fr Mackenzie.
“Leaders must be one with us in our situation. We need action in Copenhagen. We need hope,” said Fr Mackenzie. “There is some hope left. I hope they hear our voice and our prayer.”