Do the Deal, Monsieur le Président

by Gerry Lynch last modified 10 Dec, 2015 08:46 PM

Bishop Nicholas meets François Hollande along representatives of global faiths

Do the Deal, Monsieur le Président

Credit for both photos: Sean Hawkey/Christian Aid.

Bishop Nicholas was among twenty faith group representatives who presented a collection of climate justice petitions with almost two million signatures to the President of France, M. François Hollande, today.

The result of a joint effort from faith networks worldwide, the petitions were signed by 1,833,973 people calling for a fair, ambitious and binding deal at the UN climate summit. They were delivered in person to M. Hollande at a ceremony at the Élysée Palace.

In his address, the President praised the group, which represented faith leaders and campaigners from Africa, Central America, Asia and Europe, including the famous Filipino diplomat and climate activist, Yeb Saño.

M. Hollande told them, “Through the petitions, through the walks and pilgrimages, you have committed to defend life. It is necessary that all citizens engage and mobilise, like you have done …Your example has paved the way. I hope these pilgrimages and petitions will have as much influence as possible, while we’re still negotiating the agreement.”

Mr Hollande reminded his guests that the primary role of negotiators at the climate summit was to “deal with the future of the planet.” He told them: “We must protect our planet. It is a responsibility that we can’t walk away from… Your message, your petitions, must be heard, and this voice you’re bringing, must be listened to.”

Bishop Nicholas is the Church of England lead on the environment as well as an ambassador for the ACT Alliance, involving more than 130 churches worldwide. He told the President, “People of all faiths urge all parties to agree on a Paris deal applicable to all. Following the acts of terrorism in this city we want the world to act together, in care of our common home.

“For it to be ambitious, the agreement must include a long-term goal drastically cutting the world’s carbon footprint and making the transition to clean energy

“It must also have a tool to review and increase countries’ contributions, to review and increase ambitions as gaps arise. When they go home, governments must actually start to deliver a low-carbon future.”

At the ceremony, M. Hollande was also addressed by representatives from OurVoices, Religions for Peace and the Global Catholic Climate Movement, who together with ACT Alliance led the global petition campaign. Guests also included members of We Have Faith, the Lutheran World Federation, and the Bhumi Project at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.

Reflecting on the presidentiFaith leaders and campaigners delivered a climate justice petition to Francois Hollande at the Presidential palace in Paris today - credit Sean Hawkey.jpgal event, Bishop Nicholas said afterwards, “To hand in a petition with more than 1.8 million signatures from all over the world was really moving. It was a powerful thing.

“The message is simple – this is about our common home and we need to act together. This is not the end. This is the beginning of the journey and now we have to work hard in order to make this deal effective.”

Christian climate pilgrims had walked from London to Paris and from across Europe and beyond to lobby the summit, including two pilgrims from our Diocese, Harry Reddick from Holy Trinity, Weymouth and Elizabeth Perry from Middle Woodford. They were represented by Judith Tooth, who attends St Henry Morse Catholic Church in Diss, Norfolk. Speaking after the ceremony, Mrs Tooth said, “I think from what the President said, he seemed moved by the efforts that we as pilgrims had gone to. Knowing that what we did has reached his ears and hopefully moved his heart, I feel very pleased. It was an honour to be here representing all those who walked on the Pilgrimage2Paris.”

Christian Aid’s International Advocacy Adviser Mariana Paoli, who attended the event, said, “Thousands of British voices were part of this call for climate justice: we are proud to join forces with so many campaigners worldwide. Faiths are united in standing in solidarity with the poorest and most vulnerable communities on the front line of the climate crisis. They have the least to contribute to climate change, yet are the most affected. This is an injustice. We’re made our message clear and we’ll continue to bang the drums for climate justice.”

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