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Preparations for Climate Change Talks

On 29 June the UN held a High Level Climate Change Event (“High Level” means that UN representatives as well as country officials come, such as Ministers of Environment and Energy). At its opening, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that “the stars are aligned as never before” for the success of the Paris climate talks, which, he said, are not the end point but can be a turning point. He thinks that the biggest carbon-emitting nations are ready to lead, and most of the largest economies are ready to place their bets on non-carbon energy sources. Citizens and faith leaders are demanding action for the most significant challenge of our time.

He and most of the speakers that day thanked Pope Francis and spoke highly of his encyclical. The minister from Peru said “This is the Day of the Pope!” Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, the President of the Vatican Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, spoke of the need to review our dominant economic models, especially the mindset that makes us indifferent to our brothers and sisters. He said we must seek other ways to understand “progress.”

The President of the Republic of Kiribati and the Ambassador from the Maldives (whose countries are just a few feet above sea level) talked about what their countries face (and indeed have already experienced) from rising sea levels—about the terror their citizens experience with every high tide or storm, how their crops are ruined and water contaminated with salt water—and about how they are getting ready for a time when they have to abandon their nations.

A 15-year-old youth representative “representing my entire generation and Indigenous Peoples” called climate change the “defining issue of our time.” He has been working on the issue since he was 6 years old. “What better time to be alive?” he cried, “because we can change the world!”  The speakers stressed that the world must turn away from denial and the feeling that one person cannot make a difference. Failure is not an option.

 

HOW YOU CAN LEARN MORE:

All countries are supposed to come to Paris with an I.N.D.C. (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution) stating all they are willing to do for climate change mitigation. Has your country published an INDC yet? what does it say? Watch for the latest working text for the Paris conference; it should come out on 24 July; if it is too late for our August edition, we will add a link to the September Update!