December 7th – As the closing of COP 18 looms, particularly given how things are going, if one is a person of faith, it is befitting to start this day with prayer, as it the prospective outcomes are far from promising. After the now-routine 1-hour bus ride and 20 minute walk from where the shuttle bus drops us to where the sessions occur, I started my day at the session, “Ethical and Religious Insights on the Climate Crisis,” organized by the World Council of Churches(WCC).
After opening remarks by the moderator, Reverend William Somplatsky—Jamon of Presbyterian Church USA and the World Council of Churches, we viewed a WCC film “Have You Seen the Rainbow: Hope, Change, and Faith in Tuvalu” which gave us a snapshot of the impact and threat of the climate crisis for the people of Tuvalu.
We then heard the grounding words of Sister Jayanti Kirpalani of Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University-Europe led us in a reflection on the powers of prayer and relationships, including our relationship with the earth. “When we protect nature, nature protects us,“ she stated.
The Q&A brought insightful commentary from audience and panelists alike. The discussion began with a lamentation from one audience member, “Christians have moved away from focusing on salvation to focusing on prosperity. He followed with a query from one audience member, “It is the responsibility of the faith community to bring hope. How do we bring hope?“ The discussion continued with someone asking if we are not missing the boat by not putting more emphasis on addressing population control,. To this, Father Brinkman replied that it’s not population that’s driving this crisis, it’s the excesses of a wealthy few that is at the core of the problem.
Sister Kirpalani stated that we needed to focus on generating the renewable energy of hope which is spiritual, immortal and eternal. An audience member gave us a charge going forward by invoking an earlier reference by Sister Kirpalani in saying that, as faith communities, our role needs to be engaging more prominently at future COPs in invoking positive vibrations at all climate talks going forward.