Archbishop's video message for Climate Change Talks in Durban
Sunday 27th November 2011The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has released a video message of support at a multi-faith climate change rally and concert in Durban, hosted by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. This rally is being held on the eve of the COP 17 United Nations Climate Change Conference 2011 in South Africa.
In his video message, Dr Williams said that “the effects of environmental pressure and change are felt day but day, especially by the most vulnerable people on the face of the planet", and urged governments and the international community to show moral leadership: “We need to see some clarity about real integrated responses to questions around clean energy, food security, clean water and bio-diversity.” Emphasising the need for secure funding for adaptation and a credible plan to prevent the worst ravages of climate change before it is too late, the Archbishop said: “We need to see some security, some guarantees.” The Archbishop has witnessed first hand the threat of climate change to lives and livelihoods in his visit to East Africa earlier this year.
As well as highlighting the responsibility of governments around the world, the Archbishop also used the video message as an opportunity to remind people, especially in the global North, of the importance of talking personal responsibility for the environment as ‘we can actually make a real, noticeable difference’.
In his message, which was recorded during a visit to a local environmental project in South London, he said “we need to do what people in this local community here in London are doing. That is, quite simply, to take responsibility – to realise that it’s not impossible, it’s not some huge mountain to climb.”
He concluded his video message by urging governments to take the urgently needed decisions at this conference: “Worldwide, it’s governments and leaders who need to step up to that responsibility.”
The religious leaders at the multi-faith rally in Durban will submit a petition to the governments gathered for the Climate Change talks to put the needs of the world before national, economic self-interest.
A full transcript of the message follows:
I’ve been spending this afternoon here in south London at a local environmental project, a project that’s involved local school children, local community groups, residents associations, people of all ages and backgrounds, in bringing back to this community some sense of ownership of the place where they live. It’s one of a number of projects that’s making a small difference, but one of those without which big differences don’t happen. People are learning to grow their own vegetables again, to grow their own flowers around their houses and their flats. And across the world there are countless people involved in projects like this.
Earlier this year I was visiting Kenya, and everywhere I went the request was “will you plant a tree?”. Because in Kenya, with soil erosion and degradation they know how crucial it is to keep trees planted. In Burundi, Christian Aid has helped in the planting of millions of trees in the last couple of years.
So there’s plenty going on and it’s no time for despair – but it’s certainly no time for complacency either. The moral crisis is as real as ever. The effects of environmental pressure and change are more and more felt day by day especially by the most vulnerable people on the face of the planet. And we need as never before real moral leadership from our governments, from the international community. We need to know that governments will fulfil the pledges that have been given by the richer countries, to provide $100bn by 2020.
So we’re urging people once again to step up to the responsibilities only they can exercise. Locally, it’s local people, people like those I’ve been speaking to this afternoon who have the responsibility, and many of them are eager and willing to respond to that. Worldwide, it’s governments and leaders who need to step up to that responsibility. We need to see some security, some guarantees, about emissions cuts. We need to see some clarity about a real integrated response to questions around clean energy, food security, clean water and bio-diversity. We need joined up thinking in this area. We need to think of the environment as a whole, not just in bits.
And we need to do what people in this local community here in London have been doing. That is, quite simply, to take responsibility. To realise that it’s not impossible, it’s not some huge mountain to climb, but that in our own environment we can actually make a real, noticeable difference. One of the things I’ve found striking this afternoon is the tremendous enthusiasm among young children and teenagers for this work. These are children and young people who’ve been actively involved in designing projects that they’re seeing through and they are a very good and a very promising sign for our future. It would be a tragedy if as adults, as leaders, as governments, as opinion-formers, we didn’t live up to the expectations and the possibilities that our young people have shown us. I hope and pray that that will help move things on as we see the absolute necessity of doing justice to the next generation, as we do justice to the whole of our environment.
© Rowan Williams 2011
COP 17 United Nations Climate Change Conference 2011
Since the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force in 1995, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC have been meeting annually to assess progress in dealing with climate change.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Durban 2011, will bring together representatives of the world's governments, international organisations and civil society.
The discussions will seek to advance, in a balanced fashion, the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Bali Action Plan, agreed at COP 13 in 2007, and the Cancun Agreements, reached at COP 16 last December.