Church leaders hold their breath with the world as climate negotiators horse trade

(Photo: © Sean Hawkey / WCC)The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit meets Nobel Peace Prize laureate, former Vice President Al Gore at the COP21 global climate talks in Paris on Dec. 9, 2015.

They are getting to the last stage of crucial climate negotiations and church leaders are adding their final push to global leaders to sign a binding climate change agreement that will be beneficial to humanity.

Many climate activists have noted a difference at the COP21 international climate conference in Paris with a greater convergence of governments, civil society and business.

"Many in the financial and business sectors are changing their investments and practices. They are turning towards de-carbonization, renewable energy, and new methods of production and transportation," said Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches on Dec. 8.

"The green shift is already happening. We all must follow suit. The next generations are depending on us."

Pressure is building ahead of the Dec. 11 deadline for a global climate accord and a coalition of nations which cuts across rich and poor countries, has emerged to push for an ambitious deal, South Africa's EWN news reported.

The grouping is known as the 'High Ambition Coalition' and represents more than 100 countries, all of which are lobbying for a legally binding agreement on carbon emissions.

The coalition includes the United States, all members of the European Union and 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

Ahead of the buildup to the deadline, Tveit addressed the High Level Segment of the COP21 2015 international climate conference in Paris.

If international climate talks really stall, don't be surprised if there might be an ever-so-slight intervention by Pope Francis.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace who helped draft the pope's June encyclical on global warming, said the pontiff has "deep trust" that negotiators in Paris will get the job done, The Association Press reported.

But just in case they don't, the Pope could  possibly send a gentle message, he said.

"If it gets to a stalemate or whatever, he may utter a statement or make a comment or whatever, but he will refrain from exercising any coercive power on the things over here, because that would not belong to his style," Turkson told AP after a press conference by Vatican officials Dec. 8.


In his address Tveit, said, "We believe that you will serve the world by showing the best of human creativity and capacity."

Tveit was speaking on behalf of more than 150 leaders from 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."

He gave practical examples of his experiences.

"Before coming to Paris, I visited Chennai, India. Many have lost lives, homes and belongings. As usual, the poor are the most vulnerable.

"In southern Norway and in the United Kingdom, we have had unprecedented floods the last weekend; many people have been evacuated from their homes.

"We represent all these, and many others, who suffer loss and damage from climate change. You know that we must change. That is another reason to hope."

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 per cent 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," said Tveit.

On his positive note he said, "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."

Nearly 200 ministers at the COP21 climate talks in Paris are wrestling with the new draft text of an agreement, the closest the world has ever come to a universal climate accord, EWN news said.

French Foreign Minister and conference president Laurent Fabius said they should be prepared to work over the final two days through the night finalize the text.

From a bulky 48 pages on the document has trimmed down to just 29.

EWN said that most significantly, it contains the phrase 1,5 degrees.

Many scientists argue that if temperatures climb above two degrees Celsius, the world faces dangerous and potentially catastrophic climate change.

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