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People from all walks of life came to Paris to attend, participate in, or observe the events at COP21. It is one of the few COP meetings where major international leaders, including President Obama,showed up to lend support for the proceedings. Many come with excitement, high expectations, and readiness to be active in the various seminars, discussions, and presentations.
The largely anticipated Global Climate March which was expecting over 250’000 people, and was coordinated with events around the world in 175 countries, was cancelled due to the Paris attacks on Nov. 13, 2015. Its plan was also marred by 200 protesters demonstrating before the meeting, when gatherings were being discouraged by Paris police.
However, French activists called for people around the globe world to march in their name, in solidarity with them. Citizens’ voices are encouraged to be heard throughout COP21 – including in the streets of the French capital as activists explore creative ways to sound their concerns.
COP21 is an important meeting which is hoping to agree on a comprehensive climate agreement that will encourage a transition to 100% renewable energy.
The Global Climate Marches have commenced with over 60’000 people marching for action in Melbourne, Australia on Nov. 27, 2015 – the largest climate event of its kind held in that country. On Nov. 28-29, 2015 hundreds of thousands of others around the world took to the streets in more than2’100 events in 175 countries to turn up the heat on leaders heading to the Paris Climate Summit on Nov. 30, 2014.
We need to care for the planet and the people. This has become an even more pressing issue for the global family. Some feel there is nothing to worry about. But if we see the alarming statistics from scientists around the world, it is something to keep us awake at nights.
To this end, there are religious groups around the world who are showing concern for the planet and all of God’s creation. We cannot keep ignoring the mounting statistics on climate change and how we need to live sustainably and work towards saving the planet for our descendants.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) now has a membership of 195 parties with the main objective of reviewing the Convention’s implementation.
The first COP took place in Berlin in 1995 and significant meetings since then have included COP3 where the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, COP11 where the Montreal Action Plan was produced, COP15 in Copenhagen where an agreement to promote Kyoto Protocol success was unfortunately not realized and COP17 in Durban where the Green Climate Fund was created.
This year, there is a lot at stake. It will be the first time where they will try to achieve a legally binding universal agreement on climate. This will include the pressing goal of keeping global warming below 2° C.
France played a leading international role in hosting this seminal conference, and COP21 will be one of the largest international conferences ever held in the country with around 50,000 participants, including delegates from governments, intergovernmental organizations, UN agencies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and civil society. COP20 in Lima was able to draft a ‘Lima Call For Climate Action’ which laid out foundations for a new global climate deal.
This was the first ever universal climate change deal which will work towards saving the planet. There is no other world movement on a specific issue that draws leaders from all the over the world to together. The nations of the world are recognizing that we cannot survive any longer without working together to combat climate change.
This year COP21 had the first press conference sponsored by the World Council of Churches with an inter-faith panel on Friday Dec. 4, 2015. The panel was provocative and important in voicing the concerns of religious groups on climate change and climate justice. The panelists were Archbishop and Primate Antje Jackelén of Church of Sweden, Sister Jayanti of the Brahma Kumaris, Buddhist Debra Boudreaux of the Tzu Chi Foundation, Michel Roy, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Serafim Kykotis.
The panel was chaired by chaired by ACT (Action by Churches Together) Alliance member Christian Aid’s Policy and Public Affairs Director Christine Allen who remarked, “Never before have we heard the voices of faith so strongly as in this COP – faiths united by a concern for solidarity and justice.”
WCC general secretary Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit writes in his article, “Signs of Hope on the Eve of COP21” that those who come to Paris “hold the potential to make efforts and decisions these days that will prepare a better world”.
COP21 is a sign of hope for many around the world. Especially for the most vulnerable around the world. We need to care for the poor who are suffering the most from the disasters of drought, flood, and storms resulting from climate change. The rich need to live more justly, by heeding the hopes and the needs of those in client countries, so that all may simply live.
Grace Ji-Sun Kim is an Associate Professor of Theology at Earlham School of Religion. She is the author of Embracing the Other; Here I Am; Christian Doctrines for Global Gender Justiceco-edited with Jenny Daggers; Theological Reflections on “Gangnam Style” co-written with Joseph Cheah;Reimagining with Christian Doctrines co-edited with Jenny Daggers;Contemplations from the Heart;Colonialism, Han and the Transformative Spirit;The Holy Spirit, Chi, and the Other; and The Grace of Sophia. She is a co-editor with Dr. Joseph Cheah for the Palgrave Macmillan Book Series, “Asian Christianity in Diaspora”.