World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

On the coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol

09 December 2005

WCC Statement to the High Level Segment of the UN Climate Change Conference, 9
December, 2005

Mr President, Distinguished Delegates, Observers,

1. We would like to light a candle - the light being a symbol of joy and hope -
because first of all we want to celebrate the coming into force of the Kyoto
Protocol, this being the first Meeting of the Parties. We also want to celebrate
the dedication that so many people and so many countries have shown over
these days to make the Kyoto Protocol and the UN Convention on Climate
Change a success, by agreeing on the Marrakech Accords and on a working
plan on adaptation.

2. We would like to light a candle because we are thankful for the gift of life -
ever so precious and ever so delicate - which for us and other people of faith
with all our differences is a gracious and sacred gift. We are thankful also for
the gift of the atmosphere as a precondition of life to all living beings. More
specifically we want to remind us all that we ought to be thankful for the service
delivered by poor and marginalised communities, by emitting low levels
of CO2, thereby limiting the climate impact that would occur if all people
would live the lives of wealthy communities, both in the South and the North.
This thankfulness is meaningless however if it does not lead to doing justice
to this service. Therefore we plead for a substantial Climate Fund in which
people from wealthy communities acknowledge this service by paying for all
their excess emissions above the long term sustainable and per capita equal
level, to be used for adaptation and sustainable development in poor communities.

3. We would like to light a candle because we want to remind us all of the pain
and disaster that is already suffered in various regions of the Earth due to climate
change; disaster to people - even going so far as to forced migration -
to nature, to creation. Disaster inevitably will occur to future generations due
to the already high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Here we preferentially
mention people living in vulnerable living conditions like many Pacific islands,
the Arctic and so many more. Also we specifically mention women and children
in developing countries who often are first affected by the lack of water,
food, fuel and sustainable livelihoods. This brings us to emphasizing once
more the need of substantial and immediate adaptation efforts as a sign of solidarity
and a consequence of the responsibility people mainly in the North
bear for the ongoing climate change.

4. We would like to light a candle because by burning down the candle we want
to remind us all that time is running out. We pray that an agreement may be
reached for negotiating equitable and sustainable targets for post-2012. To
respect our pledge to prevent dangerous human interference with the climate
system - which according to a broad consensus would amount to limiting
temperature rise to 2 degrees C - we are at a critical moment now, if not worse.
We have used little over one century to come to this situation of crisis. Radical
changes have to take place in order to make the transition to sustainability
within the current century. Therefore this is the moment to decide on these
changes. Let's acknowledge that the use of the atmosphere - being a Global
Commons - has to be shared equally and justly. Let's conclude therefore that
we cannot let political power, the market and technology-based economic
competition decide on how the use of the atmosphere will be distributed.
Therefore we once more point to the Contraction and Convergence Model as
a valuable starting point for deliberations and negotiations.

5. We would like to light a non-fossil fuel candle as an appeal to the non-fossil
fuel society that we envisage. To that end, we welcome the tremendous possibilities
of science and technology that can be and should be shared graciously,
as a crucial contribution to sustainable development all over the world.
This can lead to sustainable and just societies that indeed have a significant
improvement in the quality of life over what currently exists.

6. We would like to light a candle as an acknowledgement that what we suffer
from is not simply a technological, economic or ecological crisis, but a spiritual
crisis. Our situation is the result of valuing the certainty of political power
over the certainty of community, solidarity and justice being done to each
other; of valuing the certainty of individual control of material wealth over
the certainty of enjoying the gifts of nature and friendship. Therefore we ask
for guidance to us all in making a transformation to a consciousness of community
and enjoying the bounty of nature.

7. We would like to light a candle because we remember that people have always
gathered around the light as a symbol of safety, warmth, community and hope.
As representatives of a faith community from all the continents of our world,
we ask you and dedicate ourselves to continue to build a community of justice,
equity, solidarity and sustainability, as so many of you and us here present
have tried to do in these days.

As representatives of a global community - young and old, female and male, black
and white, south and north - we invite you to join us in affirming a "Spiritual
Declaration on Climate Change" that was issued by almost 2,000 faith community
participants at an inter-religious event on Sunday, December 4th, here in