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Reports 1995-1998 Edited by Dwain C. Epps

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First Session of the Conference of the Parties for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Press release issued in Berlin, April 6, 1995.

The World Council of Churches is deeply concerned about the threat of climate change and is committed to achievement of the objective of the Framework Climate Convention. Therefore, we regret that the CoP1 has not agreed to a mandate based on the Toronto Target of 20% C02 emissions reductions by the year 2005 for industrialized countries. Instead, many governments appear to be negotiating from their own interests and have lost sight of the common good of present and future generations.

The WCC delegation is especially concerned about

  • the lack of good faith and concern for others. particularly for the Small Island States; and

  • initiatives at Berlin to promote nuclear power and link it to technology transfer and Joint Implementation.

The WCC will continue its work to integrate the concerns of justice, peace and respect for creation. The WCC is convinced that climate change should be a common concern of all religions. It seeks cooperation with all religions and with NGOs committed to the objectives of the Climate Convention.

The WCC regards climate change as a deeply ethical issue because it is a problem caused largely by the rich industrialized countries, whereas the consequences will be suffered disproportionately by the poorer developing countries and future generations. The WCC considers climate change to be the result of human behavior that is highly disrespectful of other human beings and species and ignorant of the inter-relatedness of all creation.

The WCC has published a study paper, Accelerated Climate Change: Sign of Peril, Test of Faith, which has this to say about nuclear power: “It is sometimes argued that nuclear power is an alternative energy source that would avoid emission of GHGs. However, studies have consistently demonstrated that efficiency measures and renewable energy sources are more cost effective and practical than the nuclear option. Moreover, the unresolved issue of nuclear waste and the implications of potential catastrophes point to the ethical problems of nuclear power.” Nuclear power cannot serve the development needs of the majority of Third World people!

The WCC will continue in its efforts towards achievement of the Convention’s objective. The WCC accepts the implications for changes in lifestyle, particularly in the industrialized countries, that this goal implies. We must be prepared to go beyond the so-called “win-win” solutions when these are not enough.

Statement to the Kyoto Summit on Climate Change

Presented by the WCC delegation to the High Level Segment of the Third Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP3) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto, Japan, 9 December 1997.

[cf. Petition Campaign on Climate Change in chapter on Environmental Justice]

Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates, Observers,

We recognise that the COP3 negotiations are at a difficult point. We make this statement on behalf of the World Council of Churches with a combination of humility and prayer, wanting to assist the process and yet needing to speak the truth as we discern it.

For us in the World Council of Churches, the core of the COP3 agenda is justice.

Justice means being held responsible for one's actions.

The rich of the world, through promotion of the current economic model, have been and continue to be responsible for the vast majority of emissions causing human-produced climate change but seem unwilling to honestly acknowledge that responsibility and translate it into action. It is ironic that countries which exult in their domestic legal principles feel themselves above the law when it comes to their international obligations on climate change.

Justice means being held accountable for promises you make.

The rich of the world have broken their Rio promise to stabilise emissions by 2000 at 1990 levels and yet seem to exhibit no embarrassment at their failure.

Justice means being held responsible for the suffering you cause to others.

Small island states, millions of environmental refugees, and future generations will suffer as a result of the callous exploitation of the Earth's resources by the rich.

Justice means being held accountable for abuse of power.

Human societies, particularly in the over-developed countries, are damaging the environment through climate change with little respect for the inherent worth of other species which we believe to be loved by God as are we.

Justice means an equitable sharing of the Earth's resources.

Millions of people lack the necessities for a decent quality of life. It is the height of arrogance to propose that restrictive commitments be placed on the poor to make up for the delinquencies of the rich. Over-consumption of the rich and poverty of the poor must both be eliminated to ensure quality of life for all.

Justice demands truth.

Destructive misinformation campaigns are being used by groups with powerful economic self-interest with the intention of preventing meaningful action on climate change.

Justice requires honesty.

The world is not so easily divided into the rich North and the poor South as we used to think. There are a few wealthy and powerful countries and elites within the category referred to as developing countries who sometimes misuse this classification of nations to disguise their economic self-interest.

God's justice is strict but it is not cruel. We are all here in Kyoto as brothers and sisters equal before God within the community of creation – a creation which we all want to be healthy and thriving for future generations. In affirmation of the goodness of creation (Genesis 1:25), God beckons us to respect all forms of life. In what we do at COP3, we must not betray life.

Confidence-building measures are needed so that together we can reduce the threat of climate change:

  • Industrialised countries must demonstrate, in the near future, real and significant reductions in domestic greenhouse gas emissions which many studies have shown to be possible with a considerable net benefit to their economies.

  • Though developing countries should not be subject to formal emission limitation commitments yet, many of them are pursuing measures and can continue their efforts to become more energy-efficient and to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

  • The sharing of finance and technological resources is needed but it is also very important to exchange experiences from both South and North including those of indigenous cultures, women's organizations and others which can offer lessons and tools for learning to live in a socially just, equitable and ecologically sustainable manner.

In these remaining days of COP3, let us shift our energies away from trying to figure out how to attain the minimum and channel them instead toward creative risk-taking options for accomplishing the maximum. Thank you.
UN World Conferences

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