Church Leaders - A Climate Treaty for Climate Justice
Friday 30th November 2007European church leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, have warned governments that "Substantially reducing global emissions of greenhouse gasses will not avoid the serious impacts of climate change already experienced by many of the world's most vulnerable communities".
In a joint letter sent by Dr Williams, the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden and the Chairman of the Council of the EKD (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland), the leaders called for "... governments and the European Commission to strengthen their commitment to addressing the challenge of climate change", as they gather at the Intergovernmental Conference on Climate Change in Bali, 3-14 December. The letter was sent to the President of the European Commission and the President of the Council of the European Union.
The impact of climate change, they say is felt disproportionately and unfairly most heavily by those who have done the least to cause it, and this made it not just a question of environmental good practice, but also of international justice:
"Climate change is not just about addressing environmental degradation; it is also about fighting poverty and providing for human security.... The creation of new migration patterns from waterlogged, water scarce or food scarce regions will exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and lead to heightened regional and international security"
"Securing a just and equitable post-2012 Treaty depends on governments progressing beyond notions of justice that reflect their own national interests to one that provides for the global common good."
The full text of the letter can be found below:
Drawing on our trust in God, creator of heaven and earth, and on a living faith in Christ, we as leaders of churches in Europe call upon our governments and the European Commission to strengthen their commitment to addressing the challenge of climate change. Following the publication of the Fourth Report of the Intergovernmental Conference on Climate Change (IPCC), November 2007, we urge you to redouble your efforts to secure the necessary framework agreement at the COP-13 in Bali, 3-14 December 2007.
The Fourth IPCC Report is yet further evidence that the conditions for life on earth are not secure, but are more frequently threatened by a violent and seemingly irreversibly changing climate. The report reminds us that we are allocated a position of co-responsibility in the sustainable use and beneficial management of the living space created by God, and accountable before God for its fulfilment. The biblical creation narrative is not to be understood as an unlimited licence to exploit, but rather as a promise of blessing that humankind should and can live up to.
Throughout this year we have been cautiously optimistic that the international community recognises that the battle against climate change can only be won through robust global action. Reports such as that provided by the IPCC give us hope that the foundations for the negotiations of a post-2012 climate change regime will be secured at the COP-13 in Bali. Our optimism is tempered by an awareness that past climate negotiations have been characterised by a legacy of broken promises and missed opportunities. As such, we recognise that securing a settlement in Bali will be dependent on all government's taking the necessary steps to reverse the declining levels of trust within the international community that currently exist between North and South.
As you start negotiations for a more comprehensive and inclusive successor agreement to one of humanity's most pressing and difficult challenges, we see it as important to build on the experience gained from Kyoto, particularly in international emissions trading. We believe, however, that a new agreement will be successful only if it is perceived by all participating countries to be equitable and just. We remain concerned that even at this late stage, there exist as many understandings of what might constitute a just settlement as there are individual negotiating strategies.
Securing a just and equitable post-2012 Treaty depends on governments progressing beyond notions of justice that reflect their own national interests to one that provides for the global common good. Such an appreciation of justice can transform our relationship both with each other and with the natural world so that all may flourish. We welcome, therefore, the creative efforts of several trans-national bodies, which have sought to shape recent climate discussions based on an understanding of the climate as a Global Public Good. Every person on earth, both now and in the future, has the same right to use its natural resources in a sustainable manner.
Any post-2012 agreement should build on the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" as provided by the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. Informed by the prevailing scientific evidence, all countries should commit to reduce collectively global emissions by at least 80% by 2050. In our view developed countries need to continue to take the lead in emissions reduction by adopting effective targets and timetables to reduce their collective emissions by between 30% and 40% by 2020. Rapidly industrialising countries should be encouraged to commit to reduce their energy intensity by 30% by 2020 (an average of 4% per year), and agree to emissions reduction targets thereafter. Other developing countries should commit to an energy intensity target differentiated by their responsibilities and capabilities.
Without far-reaching reduction targets by heavily industrialised countries we find it difficult to envisage the international community creating the market incentives necessary for technological development and transfer. The Kyoto Protocol's flexible mechanisms, such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), have so far bypassed developing countries. Ambitious reduction targets could help to correct this imbalance by assisting in the development of a more effective system of carbon trading and with it increased and redirected flows of finance for low carbon development and new sources of energy in the developing world. Encouraging the market to factor in the cost of greenhouse gas emissions by investing in research and development will assist the growth of new resource-efficient technologies in all sectors of the global economy. Taken together, this would suggest the need for new styles of economic modelling that pay greater attention to the natural environment.
To be just, a post-2012 agreement must address both mitigation and adaptation. Substantially reducing global emissions of greenhouse gasses will not avoid the serious impacts of climate change already experienced by many of the world's most vulnerable communities. Climate change is not just about addressing environmental degradation; it is also about fighting poverty and providing for human security. If left unaddressed it threatens further the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals. The creation of new migration patterns from waterlogged, water scarce or food-scarce regions will exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and lead to heightened regional and international insecurity.
Against this background it is difficult to comprehend why money accrued to the UNFCCC's Adaptation Fund from the 2% levy on CDM projects is not being used. In addition to reforming access to existing funds, new funding streams are required. A similar levy could apply to other flexible mechanisms, as provided for under the Kyoto Protocol, or a global carbon tax introduced - as recommended by the 2006 Report of the International Task Force on Global Public Goods.
The paradox of climate change – that those who contributed least to the problem are suffering most – means that adaptation funding should be seen as compensation rather than aid, complementary to existing Official Development Assistance. Developing countries should not redirect ODA to finance their adaptation obligations. We express our continued disappointment that the levels of international ODA still fall short of the 0.7% target and that the 2002 Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development has not been implemented.
We have little doubt that the challenges facing you and other negotiators in Bali will be immense. Securing a framework agreement capable of limiting global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will require an extraordinary effort that is without precedent in global environmental politics. It requires a radical change in mentality and awareness in society as a whole. We believe, however, that our societies do recognise the unique challenges posed by climate change and are prepared to play their part in finding a solution. Please be assured that you and others participating in this Conference remain firmly in our thoughts and prayers.
Bishop Dr Wolfgang Huber
Chairman, EKD Council
The Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr Rowan Williams
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Most Revd Anders Wejryd
Archbishop of the Church of Sweden
cc: Dr Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of Germany
The Rt Hon Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Hon Mr Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of Sweden
Mr Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General, United Nations