Speech by SAFCEI’s Bishop Geoff Davies at the We Have Faith Rally in Durban at COP 17
Rally Introduction 27th November 2011
On behalf of all the faith leaders, all involved in the “We Have Faith – Act now for Climate Justice” campaign, we welcome you. My job is to explain why we have gathered here. What is the purpose of this great rally?
Africa is a continent of faith. We know the reality of God. We also know that our well-being is dependent on being obedient to God and following the laws of nature and the universe.
We know too that we have not been doing so. Climate Change is horribly real and we have caused it. If we don’t act urgently, millions will suffer – especially in Africa.
So, we, People of Faith, and all concerned people, have come together to communicate our message to the world leaders as they gather for these critically important climate talks.
We first discussed this rally a year ago. It is a miracle that we are now here, in the stadium with all of you wonderful people, and our musicians, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu and South Africa’s Deputy President and Cabinet Ministers.
We are here to call on world leaders to be part of this miracle by committing to a FAB agreement – that is a fair, ambitious and binding agreement that puts us and our world on a sustainable path for the future. There are some countries who don’t want to renew the Kyoto protocol, or who have not even signed it. This is shocking.
Leading nations like the USA, Canada, Japan – they should know better. They should set an example and give a lead.
Developing countries like India and China and our own country are claiming “carbon space” to catch up with so called developed countries. Who is entitled to carbon emissions? The reality is that the situation is so serious we all have to start reducing carbon emissions urgently. NO polluting country can claim carbon space. Archbishop Bartholomew the Ecumenical Patriarch has denounced ecological abuse as a sin against God.
So we must end our addiction to fossil fuel and bring meaningful development through clean renewable energy.
This rally was only really possible through the huge support and help of Norwegian Church Aid and the Norwegian Government. Thank you Norway. But we also have to say: Norway, you have to stop drilling for oil, your source of huge financial wealth.
And to our South African government, we have to say “stop mining coal”, in spite of its huge wealth.
And we certainly don’t want to frack our Karroo for natural gas. Fossil fuel destroys our atmosphere, our water, our soil and biodiversity.
We also have to say nuclear energy is not a responsible answer.
The great news is that God has given us all the energy we need from the sun and the wind and the ocean currents. So to our government, we say, “Use the natural, renewable energy God gives us”.
What’s also great news is that turning from fossil fuels will produce thousands of jobs. With a green and low carbon economy millions more will be employed as we move power and wealth into the hands of people and away from the privileged few who own the oil and coal and wealth
This is why we, faith communities, call for implementing the moral and spiritual principles of justice and equity. On this foundation we must and uphold the principles of truth, love and compassion.]
In our Petition, which we will shortly be presenting to the COP Chair, we say to the governments of the world that moral principles – and not profit and economic gain – should guide the negotiations in order to secure our common future. Ethics before Economics.
Just as we in South Africa had to get rid of Apartheid and establish justice, so the world leaders need to move away from the huge injustices of the world today.
We in the faith communities know that we need a paradigm shift that puts people and planet before profit. We call for a renewed moral and spiritual vision for the future of humanity and all life.
In our world today we have some people who have huge sums of money while millions don’t have food or clean water. This is an affront to God. We are paying the price, with violence and conflict and the destruction of our planet – our only home.
We must move away from the relentless pursuit of economic growth and wealth, to the well-being of people and planet. This means a radical change from our unequal and wasteful lifestyle.
In the negotiations, we ask our government to develop a spirit of trust between the nations. And we call on the nations of the world to cooperate in seeking a solution, as we face this greatest threat ever to humanity.
At present the nations are competing against each other. “I will only reduce my emissions if you reduce yours.” The USA won’t reduce emissions unless China does, so we have this logjam between nations, after 16 years of talks.
Climate change is so great a threat that all of us must cooperate to confront it. All of us of whatever nation, race, language, creed, or culture will be affected and are being affected by climate change. Africa will be the worst affected. Average temperatures could rise four degrees! So we look for a miracle. Let’s break this logjam and turn the talks into a resounding success.
Climate Justice is justice for all – for the planet and all life on earth.
Can we all stand and call for justice?
Can we together issue this call to the world’s leaders?
Can we join and say “We call for justice for all”.
“We call for Climate Justice Now”!
This is why we are here!
27th November 2011
Bishop Geoff Davies
Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute
Office Phone: +27 21 701 8145
Cell Phone: +27 83 754 5275