Episcopal climate-talks delegation plans to continue church’s advocacy

November 2, 2017

 

 

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopalians from across the church are heading to Bonn, Germany, for the 23rd United Nations climate change conference, where they hope to continue the advocacy begun at the past two gatherings.

Officially known as the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Nov. 6-17 conference is an annual intergovernmental meeting to focus on global dialogue and action around the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Fiji is presiding over COP23 in Bonn with the support of the German government. More information on COP23 can be found here.

Previous meetings have produced the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2015 Paris Agreement, which serves as the basis for standards on climate action and lowering carbon emissions.

Appointed by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to represent him, the 11-member COP23 delegation will share Episcopal Church resolutions on climate change and information about the church and its ministries centered on ecojustice. Led by Diocese California Bishop Marc Andrus, the delegation will offer a spiritual presence through daily interfaith prayer and worship, and by encouraging active churchwide participation by Episcopalians through virtual participation and social media.

“Our goals are to build on the work done at previous conferences by urging member states to implement the Paris Agreement and pay particular attention to developing nations and the poor,” said the Rev. Canon Charles Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop for ministry beyond the Episcopal Church, in a press release.

Robertson said the delegation also hopes to “network within the accredited and public zones of the conference to spread the word about what the Episcopal Church is doing on climate issues.”

In addition, the delegation hopes its efforts will “raise awareness across the Episcopal Church of the importance of engaging on climate change as Christians,” according to Robertson, and “digitally engage Episcopalians in that work.”

This event marks the third Episcopal delegation to attend a COP meeting. A delegation attended COP21 in Paris in 2015, advocating for an agreement aligning with General Convention resolutions related to climate change. In 2016, a delegation traveled to Marrakesh, Morocco, for COP22, which focused on implementing the Paris Agreement and birthed the “We’re Still In [the Paris Agreement]” movement.

The Paris Agreement, which went into effect Nov. 4, 2016, calls on the countries of the world to limit carbon emissions, which will require a decrease in dependence on fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy sources; and for developed countries, those responsible for the majority of emissions both historically and today, to commit to $100 billion in development aid annually by 2020 to developing countries.

The agreement, which is a legally binding agreement, established specific actions and targets for reducing greenhouse gases emissions, mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change, and financing mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries. Signatory countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius and to make strong efforts to keep the rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Bonn meeting takes place against the backdrop of President Donald Trump’s oft-repeated promise to fulfill his campaign vow to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement and curb the country’s commitment to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. According to the agreement’s rule, the United States cannot actually withdraw until 2020.

He claimed in his initial June 1 announcement that the pact was bad for the U.S. economy but said he might be open to renegotiating its terms to be more “pro-American.” That conditional approach has continued.

Trump has called human-caused climate change a “hoax” and the concept of global warming a Chinese plot.

The New York Times reported Nov. 2 that the Trump administration will promote coal, natural gas and nuclear energy as an answer to climate change at a presentation in Bonn. The administration on Nov. 3 allowed release of the United States’ National Climate Assessment, which is required by law, even though its conclusions state that human action causes climate change, the Washington Post said.

How to join the delegation’s participation

  • Follow the delegation via its website, via Twitter (#EpiscopalClimate @EpiscoClimate) and on Facebook.
  • Pray for climate action.
  • Share parish or faith community activities on climate action here.
  • Send prayer requests, personal poems or prayers for consideration at the interfaith service in Bonn here.
  • Check out these resources offered as by the church’s Office of Government Relations.

Delegation

The delegation brings together a range of environmental, liturgical and churchwide experience in their representation of the presiding bishop.

The members of the Episcopal Church delegation with accredited observer status are: the Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California; Jack Cobb, domestic and environmental policy advisor, Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations; and Lynnaia Main, Episcopal Church representative to the United Nations.

Observer status allows each of these team members the ability to brief U.N. representatives on General Convention climate resolutions and to attend a variety of meetings in the official zone. Additionally, Andrus has been invited to address the inaugural UN meeting of the “We’re Still In [the Paris Agreement]” movement.

Other team members tasked with monitoring U.N. negotiations and networking are:

  • Sheila Andrus, ecological entomologist and science manager based in the Episcopal Diocese of California
  • The Rev. Andrew Barnett, associate for music and worship at the Washington National Cathedral and environmental scholar
  • Michael Coffey, an atmospheric scientist and professor at the University of the South, Sewanee
  • Nathan Empsall, Episcopal Church Global Partnerships/UN intern and communications specialist, and Yale Divinity School seminarian
  • Perry Hodgkins Jones, writer and member of the Episcopal Church Advisory Council on the Stewardship of Creation
  • The Rev. Melanie Mullen, Episcopal Church director for reconciliation, justice and creation care
  • Tom Poynor, Episcopal Church chaplain, University of California-Berkeley and scholar in theology and the arts, Diocese of California
  • Bill Slocumb, director of Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers and member of the Episcopal Communicators

For more information contact Lynnaia Main at [email protected].

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