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11 December 2015

COP21: Now's the time to stand for the vulnerable

COP21: Now's the time to stand for the vulnerable

We're reaching the conclusion of the much-anticipated climate conference in Paris, which aims to secure a global deal on tackling climate change by cutting carbon emissions. In turn, this will prevent global average temperatures from rising beyond two degrees, and ideally limit it to one and a half degrees. This is the level that science tells us we need to stay below to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

The thing is that lives are on the line, and we know it's the most vulnerable of our world who feel the impact the hardest. At Tearfund we see and hear this message from our international partners on a daily basis. They are being hit by severe floods, droughts and storms, unable to earn enough money to feed their families.

Yet despite all of this, when we turn to the Bible, we know God's story has a happy ending. Through Jesus' death and resurrection, God began restoring us – but also the whole of creation – to Himself. This is a story we as Christians, led by His Holy Spirit, have the privilege of continuing to be a part of now. And it's a story we know will end in victory when Jesus comes again, when every knee will bow, every tongue confess and all creation will be renewed and restored. God's people speaking out to world leaders for a good outcome from the Paris climate talks is part of that story.

An encouraging feature of these talks has been the clear role of faith groups who have led the way on climate change becoming a moral issue for our generation. Pilgrimages came together in Paris, which had started off in different places around the world including London, Rome and even Vietnam.

As Christians, our faith compels us to care for the creation God has given us. Doing nothing is not an option; millions of lives are at risk.

One of the most significant things to come out of this annual meeting is the strength and power of the movement of people dedicated to achieving climate justice. We have reached a tipping point in addressing the defining issue of our time and this was demonstrated by millions of ordinary people around the globe, who took to the streets in peaceful solidarity.

Civil society has been mobilised, but it's down to governments to get the job done. At the beginning of the talks we had high ambition from global leaders, we then had a long week in the middle where progress was slow with the usual tough negotiating tactics, before the pace and ambition picked up again ministers arrived and entered the end game of the last few days. 

We need a global economy that supports all people and the planet. Our high-carbon, high-consumption economy has halved poverty in the last 25 years, but its success has come at a high price to the planet and will continue to do so if we don't change our lifestyles.

Rich nations must be more generous and provide $100 billion a year in climate finance, to help poorer nations to shift to cleaner energy and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

My hope and prayer is that you will join us in seeking environmental justice for the world's poorest people and all of God's creation. We can take the next step together, full of hope, encouraged by how far we have already come, and in the knowledge that God has already won the ultimate victory.

For more information of how you can get involved in our campaign and pray for the talks please visit the Tearfund website.

Paul Cook is advocacy director at Tearfund.

Image: Paul Mader