A sign of hope ...

Published by Giles Goddard on Tue, 15 Dec 2015 11:18
Vicar's Blog

Is it an early Christmas gift for the world? Many people have asked me what I think of the climate change agreement reached in Paris. I'm pleased! It went beyond what many of us even dared to hope. The fact that 196 countries signed up is in itself remarkable, and the inclusion of an aspiration to achieve 1.5 degrees, down from 2 degrees warming, is something very few activists had expected. So congratulations and thanks are due to everyone involved.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the hard work starts now. The pledges made by countries don't go anywhere enabling the target of 2 degrees to be reached - and even if we achieve that, the effects could be very serious indeed. The actions of many countries, including our own government, seem to be flying in the face of their commitments. We now have a framework, but there's a huge amount of work and some painful decisions ahead if it's going to achieve real results. And as a world there is still far to go, beyond what's already been promised.

But it's a hugely positive step in the right direction. Much of the effectiveness of the talks came as a result of public pressure. The Pilgrimages to Paris undoubtedly helped (and did I mention I walked 75 miles?)! A global petition of over 1.8m signatures was presented to the President of France and Christiana Figueres, the lead UN negotiator. She cried as she received it.

Around the world, faith groups have been very involved. I'm pleased that as a church we at St John's are seen as leading on these issues. And we are making changes ourselves! We're in the process of agreeing a new renewable supplier for our energy, and the survey we carried out recently has produced some encouraging results. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed in any way to the preparation for the talks - by marching, writing, praying, changing your behaviour....

The Archbishop of Canterbury today produced this statement:

“I warmly welcome the agreement that almost 200 states came to in Paris on Saturday, setting a clear and ambitious path towards tackling global climate change.

“Earlier this year I, alongside many other faith leaders, endorsed the Lambeth Declaration on Climate Change. The Declaration recognised the COP21 negotiations as a pivotal moment in the urgent global challenge to tackle climate change.”

“As faith leaders, we urged those participating in the negotiations to apply the best of our world’s intellectual, economic and political resources to reach a legally-binding global agreement to limit the global rise in average temperatures to 2oC. The commitment made by world leaders to hold the increase in global temperatures to 'well below' this level is welcome and courageous progress.

"Those most affected by climate change are the poor. In our prayers and actions we must demonstrate our love for them through sustainable and generous innovation.

“The success of the negotiations to bring together so many different countries and groups to an agreement is a remarkable achievement.

“One of the Anglican Communion’s marks of mission says that we are “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth”. The global church – extraordinarily led on the issue of climate change by Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch – must be a key partner in tackling climate change. As the Body of Christ, his church is called to be incarnational. Each of us has a role to play, if we are to help achieve what has been agreed in Paris.”

Image credits: