Energy and climate change
SAFCEI energy and climate change programme coordinator: Liz McDaid
Within SAFCEI, there are a number of task teams or work programmes. The energy and climate change task team comprises active members of SAFCEI that work on the energy and climate change programme of action.
Our task team has several areas of work:
- Capacity building of faith communities in the area of climate change.
- Networking with faith communities and like minded-organisations within civil society to share our positions and ideas on how to address climate change.
- During 2011, participating in civil society organising structures in the lead up to COP17 (including CJN and Norwedgian Church Aid/Swedish Church).
- Advocating our positions and concerns to government leaders and engaging in participative policy processes that focus on climate change and energy.
A unique opportunity arose in South Africa in 2011 – South Africa hosted the international negotiations on climate change (conference of the parties – meeting number 17 – known as COP17). Given that Africa is severely affected by climate change, it is in Africa’s interest that international negotiations, that appear to have effectively stalled, be re-invigorated. Faith communities have a unique role to play, in addressing the lack of progress – in possibly breaking a deadlock by ”speaking to the heart”, by highlighting the moral imperative to take action in the interests of the planet, rather than in fear driven self interest that places short economic gains over longer term health of people and the planet.
In alliance with our various partners and funders, SAFCEI undertook an extensive and ambitious programme of awareness raising, led by a mass rally for climate justice just before COP 17. Led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and attended by numerous faith leaders, as well as COP 17 president Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figures, this rally achieved widespread local and international attention.
The rally was but one of our activities at COP – we had a stand in the Durban Exhibition Centre, held a prayer service during the second week for a moral outcome to the summit, held a official side event in with wild law expert Cormac Cullinan, marched in the Global Day of Action, and held a press conference, as well as daily reportbacks at the Diakonia Centre for faith communities, and other parallel events.
Twelve faith-based youth ambassadors have been selected from around the country and were inaugurated in a fun-filled experiential workshop, learning and sharing on issue of faith and climate change. In the lead up to COP17, youth ambassadors ran climate change awareness events and took part in various discussions on faith and climate change. For the two weeks of COP 17, the youth were involved in a number of creative exercises to highlight the need for urgent action on climate change, and supporting SAFCEI’s various events and activities at the COP.
Climate change work in 2009
In 2009, SAFCEI held a national conference of faith leaders from which arose a climate change resolution. This resolution forms the policy that guides the SAFCEI climate change programme. The resolution recognised that the communities of Africa are particularly vulnerable to climate change, and acknowledged that for faith communities “Part of our role as faith communities is to engage with leadership, including government leadership”.