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Typhoon Haiyan and the need for climate justice

DUB8076 800 580x386 Typhoon Haiyan and the need for climate justice

Typhoon Haiyan laid waste to vast areas near Tanauan, Philippines. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose

A UMNS COMMENTARY

By Sharon Delgado*

United Methodists have responded swiftly and generously to the devastation in the Philippines caused by Typhoon Haiyan, the largest storm ever recorded.

In the wake of this disaster, it is important for us to go beyond simple relief efforts.  We must heed the warnings of climate scientists who point to present disasters and future dangers, including sea level rise and increasingly deadly storms linked to climate change.

In November, in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, leaders from more than 190 nations met in Warsaw, Poland, for the latest round of United Nations climate negotiations (the 19th Conference of the Parties, or COP 19).  Yeb Sano, the lead negotiator from the Philippines, broke down in tears, made a powerful and emotional appeal for bold action and pledged to fast for the duration of the talks unless commissioners come to a substantial agreement addressing climate change.

Many people around the world have joined him in fasting.  An interfaith group in Warsaw, which included Methodists, joined the fast, stating that “As we engage in COP19, it reminds us to relate the negotiations with our responsibility as a believer. We cannot live in isolation, but we must care for each other. As a principle of equity, we fast and reduce because we can for others who cannot.”

On Nov. 20, the tenth day of Yeb Sano’s fast, developing nations walked out of the climate talks because of the refusal by wealthier nations to heed their call for a financial mechanism to address “loss and damage” caused by climate change.   This protest highlighted the fact that fossil fuels emissions now causing climate change have mostly come from industrialized nations, especially the United States.

As United Methodists who have long acknowledged and understood the dangers of climate change, we should not avoid raising the alarm. Future and more frequent disasters will be coming if we don’t respond to this threat.

This is especially important because the people of the Philippines, the Maldives and other island nations, Africa, and other hard-hit countries are pleading with those of us in wealthier, more powerful nations to take climate negotiations seriously.  We must enter into solidarity with the people of the Philippines and other developing nations that are affected “first and worst” by climate change, and join them in calling for climate justice.

Read more on COP 19 from the World Council of Churches: Faith communities advocate climate justice at COP 19.

*Delgado, a United Methodist clergywoman, is executive director of Earth Justice Ministries and a speaker and author.

 News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

 

 

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  1. Kevin

    I never mentioned glaciers. The Northwest passage article you cite was more than a year old. It never panned out commercially because the 2013 Arctic ice never melted enough to make such shipping feasible. In fact the Arctic sea ice while below the 1981-2010 average was growing at a rate above the 1981-2010 average by almost 29 thousand square miles per day and the 2013 ice coverage is well above that of 2012. http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ The Antarctic sea ice is above the 1981-2010 average. Climate change takes place over very long periods of time and it has only been within the past 50 years that we have been able to gather comprehensive data. Hard to compare. Climate depends upon a complex combination of factors that include ocean currents, CO2 production and absorbtion, sunspots, plant growth, volcanoes and yes maybe CO2 emissions. To attribute change to one cause only is overly simplistic. We should always respond compassionately to people in distress. Are they in distress because of climate change or sunspots or El Nino?

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