UN boss cries over climate petition

November 28, 2011
By Sapa
East Coast Radio, Durban

United Nations climate change boss Christiana Figueres cried when she thanked religious organisations for their contribution to fighting climate change.

"We have heard your voice and your prayers. Don't give up, continue with your prayers," she said with tears in her eyes.

An emotional Figueres was addressing scores of people from different religious organisations at Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary said she would take the petition from the religious organisations to the of 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) which starts in Durban on Monday.

The petition read: "We call our neighbours to treat the earth with respect, resist disorder, live in peace with each other including embracing a legally binding climate change treaty."

Figueres said she appreciated the contribution made by religious organisations to fighting climate change and urged them not to give up.

"I believe that the conference we are going to have in Durban will be a step forward. Please don't give up. This is going to be a long process."

Religious leaders said they were deeply touched by Figueres' speech.

"Her speech showed that she is deeply touched that we are here. This makes us hope that something good might come out of the conference," said father Busangokwakhe Dlamini of the Traditional Anglican Church.

Ashwin Hemraju of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University said Figueres' speech created an awakening and awareness on how important the environment is to people.

"Her speech showed that everyone has to do something to address climate change," he said.

Speaking during the gathering at the stadium, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said the religious groups deserved a voice during the climate conference.

"That is why we are here today to take your petition. Your voice is important. Your petition will be taken seriously," she said.

Organisers of the event said they were disappointed the stadium was not full.