COP15 … day 1

Today we discovered the incredible spaces at the Bella Centre – many different organisations that have exhibits, the area of the various representations and the hall for plenary sessions. The computer facilities are amazing: WiFi everywhere and lots and lots of computers available for the participants. It is like a small city, with many languages spoken. We paid a visit to the Holland Climate House, which organizes presentations every day – I would wish that Belgium (my own home country) and some church coalition would have a similar intiative. I must admit that I really do miss a clear presence of the religions and their assets in the issue of global warming.

In the early afternoon we participated in a side event organized by the Third World Network (TWN) on What Copenhagen talks must deliver from a climate justice perspective. Their point of view on the need to save the Kyoto Protocol, mainly to keep its legal framework with regard to the Annex 1 countries (developed countries that have agreed and committed to substantial emission cuts) in place. Negotiations at this point run the risk of allowing these rich countries to move out of their commitments and to shift a greater part of the burden of global emission cuts towards the poorer countries. The speakers at the event (Bernarditas Muller, Kamel Djemouai, Mithika Mwenda and Martin Khor) all stressed the fact that there is discrimination in climate change and that the developed world should heed its responsibilities today in enabling developing countries to face the adaptation that is necessary in view of climate change, as well as commit to legally binding commitments. Not all of the speakers were confident that such agreements and developments will be reached at COP15 in Copenhagen. Personally, I was happy to start the conference with this perspective from the global south: it reminds me of the needs of the developping countries as experienced by these countries (and not by the richer countries).

This evening, at the Franciscan Friary (Roskilde) that receives us so well, we had the occasion to meet Seán McDonagh, a Columban missionary, who worked for over twenty years in the Philippines where he was deeply committed to ecological issues (the plundering of the tropical rain forests and the consequences for the native T’boli people) and who now heads a programme for ecology and religion. He presented us with the new pastoral reflection on climate change from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, The Cry of the Earth.

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