11 December: Seek the common good!

11 Dec 11 December: Seek the common good!

delegates

Delegates at Thursday night’s meeting, COP21

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”   Isaiah 40:31

After another long night of negotiations, the decision has been made that the climate talks will go into Saturday. Now is the time to increase our prayers! In these final hours of the Paris climate talks, we need, more than ever, to lift our hopes and concerns up to the Lord, the light of the world and source of our hope and strength.

We pray renewal of strength for all who are working for a just, ambitious and binding climate agreement. The text released yesterday showed significant progress towards an agreement – we’re down from 367 ‘bracketed elements’ to only 50!

Some significant choices have been made – for example, the temperature goal has now been set as well below 2 degrees with a commitment to “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees.” This acknowledges the needs of the countries most vulnerable to climate impacts, which is new and encouraging.

But several of the decisions about concrete measures that would enable such goals to be reached are still under negotiation, and talks continue around such issues as climate finance, the differences in responsibilities for developing and developed countries, transparency in monitoring countries’ efforts to reduce emissions, and the mechanisms for helping countries that suffer loss and damage.

No one is pretending that reaching agreement on the remaining issues is easy. In some ways, that’s a sign of how strong the potential agreement could be: as one leading foundation said in its morning briefing, if the text had low ambitions, it could be concluded without delay.  But as the formal meetings pause so that smaller exchanges can be held to work out compromises, we pray:

  • that God will inspire each person negotiating with a true sense of need to seek the common good
  • that, so inspired, leaders and negotiators will show flexibility in areas that are difficult for them because of particular interests and sensitivities
  • that the conference as a whole will be given a vision of the steps it needs to take for an agreement that helps the whole global community to put aside selfishness and to walk together in ways that make peace among nations, show love for neighbours near and far, and reconcile us all with the beautiful creation that God has given us to care for.

 

We’ve done away with slavery, we’ve done away with apartheid, so let’s do something right [about climate] here,” said President Anote Tong of Kiribati yesterday. And so, remembering that even the most seemingly insurmountable injustices can be overcome, we pray again Archbishop Tutu’s prayer for negotiators:

Creator God,
You have called us to be keepers of your Earth;
through greed, we have established an economy that destroys the web of life.
We have changed our climate and drown in despair.
Let oceans of justice flow,
May we learn to sustain and renew the life of our Mother, Earth.
We pray for our leaders, custodians of Mother Earth;
as they gather in Paris at the climate talks
May they negotiate with wisdom and fairness,
May they act with compassion and courage,
and lead us in the path of justice for the sake of our children and our children’s children.

Prayer contributed by the Anglican Communion Environmental Network