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Climate change victims need help to adapt or move on, Archbishop Makgoba says

Posted on: November 27, 2015 9:49 AM
Members of the Church of England's Pilgrimage 2 Paris make their way through the French countryside on their way to the French capital for the COP 21 talks
Photo Credit: Josh Evans / Tearfund

[ACNS] People suffering from the catastrophic effects of climate change need help to adapt or – where the effects are so significant that adaption is not a possibility – they need help to move on, the Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba said.

The Primate of Southern Africa made his comments in a statement issued on the eve of the UN climate change talks in Paris – COP 21 – by the Act-Alliance, a global network of 140 churches and faith-based organisations working together in over 140 countries “to create positive and sustainable change in the lives of poor and marginalised people regardless of their religion, politics, gender, sexual orientation, race or nationality.”

Archbishop Makgoba, the Act Alliance Global Climate Ambassador, said: “The UN climate talks have for many years stressed that global temperature rise must remain well below two degrees, and it is now time to operationalize this target.

“We need an agreement that will enable renewable energy uptake and sustainable development and resilience. People need help to adapt, and when that is not possible – when people face loss and damage to the extent that no further adaptation is possible – there must be assistance to help them to move on.”

Archbishop Makgoba is part of an Act Alliance delegation in Paris for the talks. Mattias Söderberg, who is heading the delegation, warned that “climate change is not something that will happen in the future. It is happening today and at this very moment people are facing its effects,” he said.

“In Central America, for example, ongoing drought has significantly reduced harvests pushing hundreds of thousands of families into food insecurity. In Asia increasing weather related disasters have left communities struggling to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.

“We expect the Paris agreement to be a solid stepping stone to help and encourage governments to step up ambition in the coming years. We also hope this agreement will inspire and encourage private companies to choose green and sustainable investments.

“If we end up with an agreement that stipulates low ambition, this will be a disaster, both for people now and for future generations.”

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, spoke of the “historic possibility” world leaders now had “to make commitments and agreements that we know can change the future life on this planet, for better or for worse.”

“This is their unique privilege and their historic accountability to all life,” he said. “This generation represented in COP 21 know more about the effects of what we do to our planet than any generation before us. We can either – with open eyes – prepare for crises and catastrophes for us and our children, or we can prepare for climate justice to the world. We hope and pray for the strength and courage to do what is required at this moment.”