We Have Faith campaign - media advisory
“Apartheid seemed an overwhelming challenge that could not be defeated but we mobilised and defeated it. We need the same passion and determination to defeat climate change.”
– Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, campaign patron
SUMMARY: This is a climate action campaign led by African faith leaders. We are calling on world governments to take a committed moral stand and reach an agreement to curb climate change, in order to secure life in all its fullness for future generations.
Our campaign will culminate in a rally on November 27, where we shall hand over a petition to world leaders attending the COP 17 talks.
This document outlines the reasons for the extreme urgency of our campaign, some of the events that will take place, our demands to heads of states, and how all people, everywhere, can become involved.
- The challenge
- Our demands
- Campaign events
- Our vision
- How to get involved
- More information: Climate change, its effects in Africa, and COP17
Climate change is the greatest threat humanity has ever faced. All nations must take action, urgently. After 17 years of international negotiations, world leaders have not reached a legally binding agreement to stop climate change. Average global temperatures are now expected to increase by 2.5˚C to 4˚C before the end of this century. This is universally agreed to be disastrous. Human societies will not be able to survive.
Climate change is already causing unpredictable, extreme weather like severe storms, heat waves, droughts, floods, tornados and heavy snow. Africans, who have done the least to cause climate change, will be the most devastated.
In Africa, average temperatures are expected to increase by up to 6˚C, which would make life impossible on much of the continent. Already, large numbers of people are struggling to survive amid increasingly severe droughts, floods and other disasters.Africans, and African women in particular, live close to the Earth and are many are directly dependent on the natural environment.
Few Africans deny the reality of climate change, unlike so many of the world’s wealthy. We must take a stand, urgently.
Our petition (sign it online on www.wehavefaithactnow.org) sums up our call to world leaders for a new moral vision, and our three key demands:
“Dear World Leaders
“You must be honest and committed to treating the Earth and people with respect at the climate summit in Durban. Moral principles, not profit and economic gain, should be applied in the negotiations, in order to secure our common future.
“Thus far, the negotiations have not yielded any acceptable result; meanwhile, the many people of Africa are suffering the fatal effects of climate change. You must commit to the principle of inter-generational equity, for the rights of our children and Mother Earth.
Our key demands for COP 17
- “Commit to a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement, and to a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, to ensure the survival of coming generations.
- “Set clear short- and long-term targets for carbon emissions reductions that keep average global temperature increases well below 1.5˚C, and to support solutions that contribute to healing the earth.
- “Ensure there is adequate finance for adaption in Africa. Such finance should come from historically polluting nations in recognition of their ecological debt and be additional to existing development aid, governed exclusively and equitably under the United Nations.”
African religious leaders attended successful campaign conferences in Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa this year, and more than 130 African faith leaders expressed their support for climate justice at the pan-African meeting for religious leaders in Nairobi.
Faith communities all over Africa and the world are raising awareness and collecting signed Have Faith – Act Now petitions, which will be handed over at a mass rally in Durban. A Have Faith – Act Now youth caravan will leave Nairobi for Durban on November 4, raising awareness and collecting petitions along the way through concerts and road shows.
When they arrive in Durban, the caravan campaigners will attend the interfaith mass rally, which will start at 2pm on Sunday 27 November at the King’s Park Stadium.
This rally will be hosted by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and religious leaders of Africa and the world. They will issue a clarion call that for the sake of our people and our planet, and in obedience to our Creator, we must arrive at a fair, ambitious and legally binding climate change agreement. They will also hand over the petitions at the rally to the COP17 decision makers.
There will also be a Day of Prayer on December 4, at which faith constituencies across Africa and the world will pray for a just outcome of the COP 17 talks.
There is a profound need for a renewed vision, based on the moral principle of justice and equity, to ensure the future of humanity and of all life on our planet. In the endless pursuit of profit and prosperity, people have lost sight of the values that are essential for the well-being of humanity and the planet upon which we depend.
We cannot sustain a world dominated by profit-seeking, consumerism and gross inequalities, where the powerful take advantage of the weak. Well-being can no longer be equated with material wealth.
Africa is a continent of the faithful. We know that our well-being is dependent on healthy soil, fresh water and clean air and the flourishing of the plants and animals, both for our survival and as essential companions without which life is inconceivable.
Protecting the planet is demanded of us by all faiths. Only when all human beings hold each other’s lives and the lives of other beings to be deeply sacred, will our common destiny be secure.
Climate change is the result of unjust behaviour to people and the planet. The wealthy nations bear most of the historic responsibility for climate change that will most severely affect the poor. These wealthy nations continue to shirk their full responsibility for the damage they have caused.
Climate justice, and therefore both social and ecological values, should be a central goal of policy making.
Have your say:
Sign the petition online on www.wehavefaithactnow.org.
Download the petition lists at the same web page to collect signatures in your local community.
Join the “We Have Faith – Act Now”Facebook page and ask your friends, colleagues and family to join too.
Attend the rally in Durban, or ask your friends and family in Durban to do so.
Write to your local newspaper and faith-based publication about COP 17 and the “We Have Faith – Act Now”campaign.
Organise a prayer event for your local faith group on December 4, to pray for the success of the talks.
Climate change occurs naturally, but the vast majority of reputable climate scientists now agree that human activities are causing climate change much faster than happens naturally. This is because we are releasing heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. They come largely from burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, petrol and gas), burning forests and the veld, and intensive livestock farming.
Africa looks set to experience some of the most extreme effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts in its Fourth Assessment Report that by 2020, between 75 and 250 million Africans are likely to experience increased water stress caused by climate change. Large parts of the continent will heat up more than the global average, which will seriously damage farmers’ ability to grow food. Widespread poverty, forced migration to countries that are better off – including South Africa, which already has many migrants – and increased conflict are likely.
COP 17 stands for the “17th Conference of the Parties” to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Previous COP meetings were held in Copenhagen in 2009 and in Cancun, Mexico, last year. These did not yield the agreements necessary for the survival of humanity and our living planet. The Kyoto Protocol was a binding agreement but the US has pulled out and other major polluters, including China, are not signatories. The current commitment period of the protocol will lapse next year and there is no new agreement to take its place. We cannot allow this situation to continue.
Our partners in the “We Have Faith” campaign include the South African Council of Churches, the All African Conference of Churches, the World Council of Churches, ACT Alliance, the Africa Youth Initiative on Climate Change, Aprodev (consisting of European faith-based development agencies), and Norwegian Church Aid.
For more information, contact:
Jo-Anne Smetherham of HWB Communications on 021 462 0461, 082 813 6444 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Illa Thompson of Publicity Matters on 031 201 1638 or 083 326 3234 or email@example.com