Christian Ecology Link's Home Page Home Letter from David Hallman about COP9; printed woth his permission

WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES

CLIMATE CHANGE PROGRAMME

c/o The United Church of Canada
3250 Bloor St. W., Toronto, Canada M8X 2Y4
tel. 1-416-231-5931 fax. 1-416-231-3103
24 hr. voice mail for David Hallman 1-416-231-7680 ext. 4069
e-mail for David Hallman: dhallman@sympatico.ca
Memo to: WCC Climate Change/Sustainable Communities Network
From: Dr. David G. Hallman, Coordinator, WCC Climate Change Programme
Re: WCC Climate Change Update #30
Date: October 21, 2003

Dear Friends,

This WCC climate change update includes:
    a.. Information on letters related to the Kyoto Protocol sent recently by WCC General Secretary Konrad Raiser to U.S. President George W. Bush, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and UN General Secretary Kofi Annan;

    a.. A brief report on a consultation on "Impact of Climate Change on Developing Countries - new challenges for development policy" at the Protestant Evangelical Academy of Bad Boll, Germany, Sept. 17-19, 2003;

    b.. A brief report on a consultation on climate change and on water issues cosponsored by the WCC and the Heads of Agencies Networks (HOAN) in Geneva Sept. 24-27, 2003;

    c.. A progress report on plans for ecumenical participation in the 9th Session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP9) scheduled for Dec. 1-12, 2003 in Milan Italy;

    d.. A report on the World Climate Change Conference held in Moscow Sept. 29 to Oct. 3rd.

    e.. Contacts with Russian Orthodox Church representatives in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

1. WCC General Secretary writes to Bush, Howard and Annan

At the request of the WCC Central Committee, WCC General Secretary Konrad Raiser has written to U.S. President George W. Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard reasserting the WCC's profound concerns about climate change and asking both leaders to reconsider their opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. In a letter to UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, Raiser expressed support for the efforts made by the UN and its Secretariat on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to facilitate a concerted response by the international community and encouraged them to continue to press the USA, Australia and other countries to ratify the Protocol. During the World Climate Change Conference in Moscow UNFCCC Executive Secretary Joke Waller-Hunter expressed warm appreciation to me for this initiative of the WCC. For a copy of any of these letters, please contact me at dhallman@sympatico.ca

Each of the letters contained the following comments from the WCC Central Committee:

    The WCC has always stood in solidarity with those most affected by climate change. The consequences of climate change further accentuate the deep injustice already existing between industrialised and developing countries. Weather anomalies primarily hit the countries of the South, where the majority of the world's population lives. At the same time, the poor in these countries make only marginal contributions to total greenhouse gas emissions and they lack the means to protect themselves against the devastating impact of changing climate conditions. There is also the lack of political will of leaders of rich countries, who are the prime producers of greenhouse gases, to take the political and financial responsibility for this. The Kyoto Protocol is a first step in a global effort to combat climate change, but it needs to be followed with stronger efforts.

    The Central Committee calls on its member churches to ensure that all governments will sign the Kyoto Protocol and urge for a new round of negotiations for even stronger regulations.

2. Bad Boll Consultation on Climate Change Adaptation

A seminar on new challenges for development policy as a result of climate change was cosponsored by the Evangelical Academy of Bad Boll and Brot-fuer-die-Welt in Bad Boll Germany September 17 to 19, 2003. The event brought together representatives from various southern regions including Africa, India and the Pacific Islands along with church activists, development workers, NGO reps, German policy makers and scientists. Brot-fuer-die-Welt has indicated that it recognises human-induced climate change as a significant threat to the peoples with whom it works in various regions and is prepared to start channelling some resources to projects related to adaptation, risk reduction, capacity building and advocacy. This seminar initiative was very much in line with the WCC's expanded climate change focus on adaptation as reflected in the work on solidarity with victims of climate change.

3. WCC/ECEN/HOAN Consultation on Climate Change and on Water Issues

The WCC Climate Change Programme and the European Christian Environment Network (ECEN) have been in dialogue for the past two years with the Heads of Agencies Network (HOAN) which is a group representing most of the denominational and ecumenical development and relief agencies that have a relationship to the WCC. The common concern has been the effect on peoples of extreme weather events, protracted droughts, sea level rise and other impacts that scientists project will increase in frequency and intensity from human-induced climate change. The churches are recognising that in addition to continuing their advocacy efforts focused on the causes on human-induced climate change, they also have to help people increase their capacity for adaptation to climate change. The WCC's resource "Solidarity with Victims of Climate Change" and the accompanying ecumenical statement on "A Call to Action in Solidarity with those most Affected by Climate Change" are related to this WCC/ECEN/HOAN collaboration. (These resources can be found under the climate change section of the WCC web-site at: http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/jpc/ecology.html )

On Sept. 24-27, representatives from HOAN organisations, ECEN and the WCC Climate Change Programme met in Geneva to discuss next steps in collaboration and also to begin to explore the potential for cooperative activity on water issues within the framework of sustainable communities. The results and proposals for action will be shared with the next HOAN meeting in April 2004.

In terms of future climate change work, the participants at the Geneva consultation developed a number of proposals including:

    a.. relief and development agencies and the denominations could take up the responsibility for building supportive funding relationships with Southern partners that are focused on capacity building and action strategies on climate change. Interest has already been expressed by Brot-für-die-Welt in Germany and in The Netherlands through the Climate Fund organised by the Kerkinactie and ICCO.

    b.. The advocacy work at the international level should continue to be coordinated by the WCC.

    c.. The Heads of Agencies Network (including ACT) should build on the ecumenical statement to integrate climate change perspectives into their relief and development work:

    d.. national and regional ecumenical education/advocacy networks in the North (e.g. European Christian Environmental Network, NCCCUSA Eco-justice Committee, Kairos Canada) have a continuing challenge to change the economic/political policies and mechanisms and high-consumption lifestyles that are contributing so much to climate change; they could form collaborative relationships with the HOAN members in those regions and jointly develop advocacy campaigns on monitoring Kyoto implementation and post-Kyoto commitments aimed at the national or regional governments such as the EU and share their experiences with the WCC;

    e.. efforts should be made to solicit endorsements among Roman Catholic relief and development organisations of the ecumenical statement "A Call to Action in Solidarity with those Most Affected by Climate Change".
Christiaan Hogenhuis from Oikos in the Netherlands, one of the consultation participants, summarised well the interconnections between work on mitigation and adaptation:

"Under the umbrella of the churches, we hope to be able to integrate on the one hand the agenda of mitigation advocacy and education on human-induced climate change with on the other hand adaptation and reducing vulnerabilities because the churches include both social/ecological justice programmes for whom climate change has been a priority for almost 15 years and the relief and development agencies who have been engaged in development work for many years. Moreover, adaptation to climate change and sustainable development, both important for reducing vulnerabilities to climate change, are becoming essential for deeper engagement of developing countries in effective post Kyoto climate change mitigation strategies. The Clean Development Mechanism might be a good instrument to relate mitigation, adaptation and sustainable development, because it is the one element of the Kyoto Protocol that includes not only emission reductions but also sustainable development projects; it is important that the CDM focus on projects where the sustainable development benefits are clear."

In terms of the newer area of ecumenical collaboration on water issues, the Geneva consultation participants outlined a number of potential approaches. They suggested that ecumenical advocacy collaboration on justice dimensions of water should be pursued with the following considerations:

    a.. the focus would be ensuring equitable access of clean water for all; "access" we would define as encompassing a range of important dimensions including availability, water management, pollution, conservation, climate change, vulnerability;

    b.. the key justice dimensions are the obstacles that exist and are being created to deny such access such as privatisation and climate change;

    c.. the work and needs of local communities should be the starting point;

    d.. it would be useful to identify alternate approaches to privatisation which can provide models that more adequately meet the access needs;

    e.. it would be important to map or identify what is being done by whom on various aspects of the water issue;

    f.. it would also be important for some work to go into an articulation of a common analysis and understanding of the ecumenical perspective on water issues;

    g.. the World Social Forum in India (January 2004) would be a good occasion for initial ecumenical collaboration and networking with civil society groups similarly addressing water issues;

    h.. the World Bank, as the primary forum in which privatisation initiatives are being pursued, is also a key place for ecumenical network advocacy;

    i.. another important global forum in which an ecumenical network should be engaged is the UN Commission on Sustainable Development which will have water as a priority focus for the next two years;

    j.. responsibility for ecumenical collaboration on issues related to the relationship of water and climate change should in the medium term be placed within the mandate of the WCC Climate Change Programme allowing the new ecumenical network on water to focus on access and obstacles to access.
These and other more specific proposals will be shared with the HOAN meeting in April 2004.

4. Ecumenical Preparations for COP9 in Milan, Italy (Dec. 1-12. 2003)

Planning is proceeding for a variety of events during COP9 including an interfaith gathering on Tuesday Dec. 2nd, an ecumenical workshop on lifestyle issues on Wednesday Dec. 3rd, an ecumenical workshop on sustainable mobility on Thursday Dec. 4th and an ecumenical service on Sunday December 7th. The WCC will have a delegation of about seven persons representing different regions. In addition, a number of Italians connected with the Council of Christian Churches in Milan who are involved in planning the ecumenical activities will attend the COP9 negotiations with the WCC delegation.

5. World Climate Change Conference, Moscow (Sept. 29-Oct.3, 2003)

The Russian Government hosted a major scientific conference in Moscow at which were presented 50 plenary addresses, 140 oral speeches in various subsections, and over 350 poster presentations by scientists, economists, and other researchers from around the world.

I attended on invitation of the organising committee to speak on "Climate Justice - The Role of Religion in Addressing Climate Change" in a stakeholders' dialogue session. My paper is available as a link in the climate change section of the WCC web page at http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/jpc/ecology.html One of the most interesting presentations was by Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, recently appointed Chairman of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, who spoke forcefully about issues of justice, equity and adaptation, themes which are reflected as well in the WCC's work on climate change. I was glad to re-establish contact after many years with Dr. Pachauri whom I had recruited to be one of our principle resource persons at the WCC's 1990 World Convocation on Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in Seoul Korea.

Though it was intended as an international affair, the conference provided a fascinating insight into the internal debates within Russian society about ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Since the withdrawal of the United States and Australia from the Kyoto process, it is essential that Russia ratify in order to trigger the formula mechanism in the treaty to bring it into force as international law (i.e. ratifying countries must include Annex 1 industrialised nations whose emissions of carbon dioxide in 1990 total at least 55% of Annex 1 emissions). President Putin opened the conference with a speech that reassured participants that Russia was studying very closely the question of ratification and would make a final decision once that review was completed. Many conference participants had expected him to announce the decision to ratify in his speech and there was considerable disappointment with his vagueness. Encouragement for Russia to ratify was voiced by other opening session speeches in Putin's presence including addresses by the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Joke Waller-Hunter and the Environment Ministers from Canada, France and Norway.

Two days later, the plenary schedule of the conference was interrupted for an unexpected address by Putin's principle economic advisor Andre Illarionov. Using a well-prepared power-point presentation he raised a series of ten questions which he said Russia needed to have answered before it could decide on ratification. The questions reflected a significant scepticism about some of the science on climate change and played up the potential economic costs of Kyoto ratification. The Illarionov presentation exploded on the conference floor provoking stunned reactions among many of the gathered scientists who have been involved for years in the detailed work of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the main scientific body advising the UN on climate change. Many of Illarionov's questions were already answered in the IPCC's Third Assessment report (TAR) released in 2002. A group of the scientists at the conference under the coordination of Bert Bolin, former chair of the IPCC, worked diligently to prepare responses to the questions. Another session was organised on the final day to which Mr. Illarionov returned and at which Prof. Bolin presented the paper responding to the questions (this response paper is available on the UNFCCC web site at http://unfccc.int/sessions/othermt/moscow03/illarionov_en.pdf ) Illarionov seemed to accept the legitimacy of some of the responses but questioned others.

The debates around the science of climate change as articulated by the IPCC also was present in various of the presentations at the conference. Among the Russian scientists, it seemed that many of the younger scientists were presenting well-researched documentation of the impacts of human-induced climate change within Russia, particularly in the north, whereas some of the older Russian scientists were scathing in their condemnations of the IPCC but with limited peer-reviewed scientific foundations to their positions.

Fortunately, there were other voices of Russian society present concerned about climate change. A parallel event called the "Civil Forum" had been organised by a variety of progressive organisations and individuals including Dr. Larisa Skuratovskaya, a long-term member of the WCC Climate Change Task group. This well-attended two day event (including Dr. Martin Robra from the WCC) was held in the same premises as the scientific conference and heard from many sectors of society including scientists. Their final statement reads:

"Final Statement of the Round Table of Non-Governmental and Social Organisations - A Social Forum on Climate Change

World Climate Change Conference

(29 September - 3 October 2003, Moscow)

The task of the 258 participants from 33 countries in the Social Forum was to determine from the point of view of civil society whether action is needed to mitigate and prevent the consequences of global climate change.

Global climate change is a reality. While the extent of human influence is under discussion, its very fact is undeniable. Climate change has already unfavorably impacted human health and quality of life. It exacerbates global poverty and threatens ever more serious socio-economic and political consequences in the future. Unless we act now, forced adaptation to the consequences of climate change in the near future may become an intolerable burden on humanity. Responsibility for the fate of future generations and the precautionary principle leave us no choice but to take aggressive measures to mitigate and prevent unfavorable climate change at the international, national and local levels.

Under these conditions, the most effective course of action is to immediately undertake all reasonable measures to prevent climate change by reducing human-introduced greenhouse gas emissions. These measures are critically important in solving the serious social and environmental problems directly associated with climate change. But they can also lead to socio-economic benefits associated with conventional pollution reduction.

Success in executing the measures to prevent and mitigate global climate change will be possible only with the coordinated actions of all sectors of society:

Civil society in all its diversity and governments should work together to bring the Kyoto protocol into force as urgently as possible.

    a.. Civil society should initiate and monitor all crucial actions to curb climate change, ranging from implementing the mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol and monitoring their implementation, to providing local initiatives such as education, creation of an environmental culture, and partnerships with business and government.

    b.. Governments should make policy on climate change one of their main priorities. This requires assisting business and the public in creating conditions for policy implementation. In this regard, the first priority is to facilitate launching the mechanisms of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.

    c.. With all possible transparency, business should provide practical measures to reduce human-caused impacts, using mechanisms presented in the Kyoto Protocol and the opportunities of modern technology.
In addressing and mitigating the consequences of global climate change at the international, national, and local levels, the institutions of civil society should seek to enlist the cooperation of governments around the world."

6. Russian Orthodox Contacts in Russia

I was able to have two significant contacts with members of the Russian Orthodox Church on environmental concerns during my time in the country. On Wednesday Oct. 1st, the Dept. of External Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate organised a session with students studying ecological science at St. John's Orthodox University. Larisa Skuratovskaya, Martin Robra and myself were able to have several hours of dynamic conversation with the students. These young Russians were articulate in their analysis of the situation in their society about environmental issues and in the importance they assign to the linkages between their own spirituality and their concerns for the well-being of God's creation.

In St. Petersburg a week later, I was able to meet with Fr. Vladimir Federov and Marina Shishova who are both involved with an inter-church research and education centre. They have produced some significant resources including a book on "Religion and Nationalism in Russia" and participated in the WCC 'Project 21' - Christianity, Poverty and Wealth. Their centre is interested in becoming increasingly involved in ecological issues as one of their foci. We shared information and strategies from their context, the WCC's Climate Change Programme and the European Christian Environment Network (ECEN) and we look forward to further collaboration in the future.

Dr. David G. Hallman,
Climate Change Programme Coordinator,
World Council of Churches
and Energy & Environment Programme Officer,
United Church of Canada,
3250 Bloor St. W., Toronto, Canada M8X 2Y4
Tel. 1-416-231-5931
Voice mail: 1-416-231-7680 ext.4069
Fax. 1-416-231-3103
E-mail: dhallman@sympatico.ca
Alternate e-mail: dhallman@united-church.ca

Copyright © 2003-2004 David Hallman
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