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Climate Change is a justice issue for Pacific people
4:14 pm GMT+12, 07/11/2013, Korea, Republic of

By Netani Rika in Busan

Climate change is a justice issue for Pacific people and coastal communities around the world.

Reverend Tafue Lusama – General secretary of the Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu – said most people who were affected by climate change had done very little to cause global warming.

“Where is the justice when those who suffer most did the least to bring about the cause of the suffering?” Rev Lusama asked at a plenary on climate justice at the World Council of Churches 10th Assembly.

“In the Biblical story of Noah, those who lived unjust lifestyles suffered the consequences in the flood and the just were carried to safety in the ark.

“Today it is those who live unjust lifestyles who suffer the least and there is no justice in that.”

Delegates at the assembly heard that without justice, global warming would continue and energy-consuming lifestyles in the developing world would increase.

Rev Lusama suggested that the developing world needed to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using less fossil fuel, eating wisely and reducing waste.

Pacific Conference of Churches Climate Change Desk Officer, Peter Emberson, said there was a great need for compassion from the global church for those who faced the challenges of rising sea levels.

“As Rev Lusama pointed out, the Pacific is just the front line,” Emberson said.

“Coastal communities around the world – in Australia and Bangladesh and riverside dwellers everywhere in the world – have already started to see the effects of climate change.

“Our lifestyles must change and we must become more responsible in our use of resources if we want to arrest the situation.”

Emberson said Rev Lusama’s call was a sign of the Pacific’s desperation that the global church had done so little to urge its 500 million members to change their habits to save the environment.

The assembly is expected to make a statement tomorrow on how churches should influence their members to act more responsibly - specifically in the areas of the environment, resources, water and climate change.

Meanwhile, Church leaders have agreed on the need to create awareness on the preservation of water to prevent communal conflict.

Discussions at the World Council of Churches 10th Assembly this week have focused on water as a source of conflict and the need for justice in the distribution of this commodity.

In a common declaration read at the ceremony, the religious leaders recognized that the scarcity and inequitable accessibility of water could pose threats to justice and peace.

Reminding the audience of the spiritual, cultural and healing value of water, they committed themselves to work together towards water justice.

Lesotho delegate, Tolbert Thomas, said in some regions of Africa pre-paid water meters had been installed in villages.

These meters have replaced traditional, free water sources such as wells or springs.

Latin American delegates spoke on the destruction of water sources because of the impact of logging on rivers and forests.

Participants called for greater church action in advocacy to promote the protection of water sources and the equitable distribution of supplies.

A symbolic act of pouring water into one common vessel, carried out by religious leaders representing Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist faiths, marked the significance of water in various religious traditions.

The religious leaders, sharing examples from their own traditions, noted there was a great need to raise awareness concerning the preservation of water in all communities.

In almost all religions and their sacred texts, water is a symbol of cleansing, justice, peace, and it is therefore profoundly relevant to the WCC assembly theme.

The WCC theme is a prayer, “God of life, lead us to justice and peace”, and on this day it was interpreted by the participants especially in terms of water issues.

The ceremony was a joint initiative of the WCC’s Ecumenical Water Network and the WCC programme for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation. It was opened by the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit who offered Christian theological reflections on water.

Among other religious leaders in the ceremony were Prof. Ram Puniyani from the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Dr Ali Mohammad Helmi from the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization – Centre for Interreligious Dialogue, Dr Deborah Weissman from the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) and Dr Parichart Suwanbubha from the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.


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