World Council of Churches
Statement to the High Level Segment
of The Third Session of the
Conference of the Parties (COP3) to the
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
December 9, 1997
Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates, Observers,
We recognise that the COP3 negotiations are at a difficult point. We make this statement on behalf of the World Council of Churches with a combination of humility and prayer, wanting to assist the process and yet needing to speak the truth as we discern it.
For us in the World Council of Churches, the core of the COP3 agenda is justice.
Justice means being held responsible for one’s actions.
The rich of the world, through promotion of the current economic model, have been, and continue to be, responsible for the vast majority of emissions causing human-produced climate change but seem unwilling to honestly acknowledge that responsibility and translate it into action. It is ironic that countries which exult in their domestic legal principles feel themselves above the law when it comes to their international obligations on climate change.
Justice means being held accountable for promises you make.
The rich of the world have broken their Rio promise to stabilise emissions by 2000 at 1990 levels and yet seem to exhibit no embarrassment at their failure.
Justice means being held responsible for the suffering you cause to others.
Small island states, millions of environmental refugees, and future generations will suffer as a result of the callous exploitation of the Earth’s resources by the rich.
Justice means being held accountable for abuse of power.
Human societies, particularly in the over-developed countries, are damaging the environment through climate change with little respect for the inherent worth of other species which we believe to be loved by God as are we.
Justice means an equitable sharing of the Earth’s resources.
Millions of people lack the necessities for a decent quality of life. It is the height of arrogance to propose that restrictive commitments be placed on the poor to make up for the delinquencies of the rich. Over-consumption of the rich and poverty of the poor must both be eliminated to ensure quality of life for all.
Justice demands truth.
Destructive misinformation campaigns are being used by groups with powerful economic self-interest with the intention of preventing meaningful action on climate change.
Justice requires honesty.
The world is not so easily divided into the rich North and the poor South as we used to think. There are a few wealthy and powerful countries and elites within the category referred to as developing countries who sometimes misuse this classification of nations to disguise their economic self-interest.
God’s justice is strict but it is not cruel. We are all here in Kyoto as brothers and sisters equal before God within the community of creation—a creation which we all want to be healthy and thriving for future generations. In affirmation of the goodness of creation (Gen 1:25), God beckons us to respect all forms of life. In what we do at COP3, we must not betray life.
Confidence-building measures are needed so that together we can reduce the threat of climate change:
In these remaining days of COP3, let us shift our energies away from trying to figure out how to attain the minimum and channel them instead toward creative risk-taking options for accomplishing the maximum. Thank you.
Author Notes on this Document
Copyright © 1997 World Council of Churches.
Reprinted with permission.