Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tearfund Climate Justice Evening

Last Thursday's climate justice evening was attended by over fifty people, making it quite a squeeze in our church refectory. I think just over half were not from the congregation. The evening began very hospitably with coffee and cakes before we sat down for a general introduction to the issues. They particularly focussed on cases in Malawi (a video many will have seen at the Hope for Planet Earth evenings) and Nepal, where climate change is already destroying livelihoods and community.

They explained that there are three 'legs' to Tearfund's campaign -
speaking/writing to those in power
changing our own lifestyles

It was when we broke into two groups (on each of the first two subjects) that I found I learnt more stuff that I didn't already know. I chose the campaigning group. They explained that Tearfund are campaigning specifically on the reduction of carbon emissions and an adaptation fund for developing countries but there are other big issues up for discussion at Copenhagen too, notably deforestation (my note - you can sign up to the Prince's Rainforest Project to contribute to campaigning on this) and technology transfer (issues of who has the rights to use/benefit financially from newly invented green technologies).

Our carbon dioxide emissions so far mean that a rise of 1.5 degrees is inevitable. Some islands won't survive this. For the Maldives 2 degrees will be too much. Tearfund's campaign is for a commitment from developing countries to reduce emissions to 40% of 1990 levels by 2020 (ie in the eight years after the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012). For developing countries a $150 billion adaptation fund is needed (not from other development budgets).

Much discussion followed, including concerns at how the adaptation fund would be used to benefit the poorest and fears that our little efforts cannot make a difference. I entirely agreed with the speaker's point that we need to do the 'right' thing even if we're the only one since it is about our relationship with God and our neighbours, but also that lots of tiny drops together do make a difference.

At the end we had a chance to flag up things that our churches were doing, Rita advertised the coach she's organising to The Wave on 5 December and I mentioned the Ecclesiastical Electricity plan to get solar panels on a church roof in Reading by encouraging Christians from across the town to contribute rather than one church trying to do it alone (the idea being that their profits from selling back to the grid would help to get more panels on more churches).

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