STATEMENT BY ECUMENICAL ORGANIZATIONS AND CHURCHES AT COP 20 AND THE PEOPLE´S SUMMIT

Commitments for the Climate, LimaLIMA

COP 20 AND THE PEOPLE´S SUMMIT

Lima, Peru, December 1 to 12, 2014

STATEMENT BY ECUMENICAL ORGANIZATIONS AND CHURCHES

Representatives of ecumenical organizations and churches participating in the COP 20 and the People’s Summit, taking place December 1st through 12th, 2014, in Lima, Peru, express our concern over the effects of climate change that already in recent years are affecting, in an alarming way, extensive regions and populations in Latin America.

The natural wealth of Latin America and the Caribbean allows the region to have the highest level of biodiversity in the world, but it also makes it more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. It is estimated that because of climate change, Latin America will be severely affected in the coming years by the temperature increase and the corresponding decrease in soil moisture. This will provoke:

  • a gradual replacement of tropical forests by deserts
  • semiarid vegetation progressively turning into arid land vegetation
  • the loss of biological diversity with the extinction of species in many areas of tropical Latin America
  • a drop in the productivity of some important crops and with it livestock productivity
  • a negative effect on food security
  • changes in rainfall patterns
  • the disappearance of glaciers causing a notable reduction in the availability of water for human and agricultural consumption
  • a sea level increase intensifying floods, storm surges, erosion, and other dangerous coastal phenomena

From the standpoint of our faith we consider the effects of climate change to be a true threat to human life and nature, a precious gift that we have received in creation and that which we must care for. For this reason, we see as urgent that as humanity we change the consumerist lifestyle that we have and the world’s most powerful governments need to put limits on the excessive and irrational policy of wealth accumulation based on extractivism and an industry that generates greenhouse gas emissions. The message of our Christian faith and the spirituality of our ancestral peoples, call on us to initiate a new relationship with the earth and among all living beings that inhabit it.

The Fifth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC 2013-2014, states that in continuing the current emissions rate, by the year 2030 the average global temperature increase will surpass 1.5 °C. Therefore, we join the call of the Interfaith Summit carried out in NY the past month of September, 2014, and the call of the Intergovernmental Panel’s Fifth Report, for all governments to express their commitment to limit global warming to under 2 °. We also call for all States to share in the responsibility of formulating and implementing low-carbon development strategies that lead to decarbonization and the complete elimination of fossil fuels by the middle of the twenty-first century.

We appeal to all of the Member States of Latin America and the Caribbean that are participating in the COP20, to advocate for a broad, ambitious, just, and legally binding commitment. This should be followed by actions to reduce and mitigate greenhouse gases in a sustainable way in the coming decades, and to approve the use of extraordinary economic resources to invest or mitigate the effects already caused to the planet. Likewise, we ask the governments of the north and developed countries to make decisions and clear commitments to reduce greenhouse gases, which means revising their economic development policies based on extractivism and the exploitation of natural resources. We are at a decisive moment for the planet and we hope that wise decisions are made, thinking of the populations who now live through the effects without having caused them and of those who have not yet been born.

Asrepresentatives of churches and ecumenical organizations, we commit to:

  • strengthen educational processes that allow for a greater ecological awareness
  • accompany and propel alternative development that cares for the biodiversity and balance of nature
  • promote disaster risk reduction and resiliency
  • contribute to low-carbon development,
  • change our own consumption patterns and
  • reduce the use of fossil fuels

We will be zealous caretakers of our Mother Earth and are on the alert for further action if measures are not taken which guarantee for us the continuation of life on our planet.

Churches and ecumenical organizations that sign this declaration:

World Council of Churches

ACT Alliance

Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias-CLAI [Latin American Council of Churches]

Alianza de Iglesias Presbiterianas y Reformadas de América Latina-AIPRAL [Alliance of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches of Latin America]

Federación Universal de Movimientos Estudiantiles Cristianos-FUMEC-ALC [World Student Christian Federation Movement – Latin America and Caribbean]

Centro Regional Ecuménico de Asesoría y Servicio -CREAS

KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiative

Red Uniendo Manos Por La Vida Bolivia [Joining Hands for Life Bolivian Network]

Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Boliviana

Iglesia Evangélica Metodista en Bolivia

Programa de Derechos Humanos de la IELCO

Photo: Commitments for the Climate, Lima

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