Sunday, November 29, 2009

Will South Africa step up for the climate?

This is a time to step up. Next month world leaders gather in Copenhagen to thrash out a new global climate agreement. The outcome will only be so bold as we demand - and it could be as dismal as we allow.

The biggest threat? That among the politicking and bureaucracy, the world forgets what's at stake.

So here's the plan: in the middle of the negotiations, candlelight vigils in every corner of the planet to put real human faces on the need for a real climate deal. It will be the world's largest ever global day of climate action - and one world leaders and media can't miss.

To get started simply pick a good local vigil location nearby and register it on the global map. From there it's dead easy - just bring some candles and pass out the short provided message for people to take turns reading. It takes less than an hour to organise - and Avaaz members in your area will be invited to attend.

This is a time to step up - let's rise to the occasion.

We're just weeks away from what is truly the most important moment yet in the world's response to climate change. We do not expect, nor do we accept, anything less than what is needed to save our planet.

Here’s how every event will make a difference:

National pressure - in global negotiations every country makes a difference, for better or for worse. The problem is most of the time international negotiations aren’t closely followed at home - but having local events will show leaders in South Africa that this time we’re watching keenly, with the power of a coordinated international movement to name and shame those countries that hold up progress.

World media - creating a world media story takes a world in action. We need to show journalists that this is more than just another protest: it’s a global coordinated day of action on a massive scale. We have demonstrated that this works -- our Global Wake Up Call and the 350 day of action both generated huge global press coverage earlier this year. Now, in the middle of the Copenhagen talks, the media moment is even bigger. Thousands of vigils around the planet will give this day of action the scale we need to make an even bigger global media impact.

Photographic evidence- Photos of every vigil from around the world will be printed and delivered to negotiators and world leaders in Copenhagen - they are evidence that people around the world have the very same ambitious goal for our planet: a real climate deal. All action photos will be also be posted on the internet for millions of Avaaz members to see and distributed to the global media.

This is a time to step up - let's all of us seize the opportunity:

Thanks for all that you do,
Ricken, Ben, Taren, Iain, Sam, Alice, Milena, Paul, Luis, Julius, Lisa and the whole Avaaz team.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Faith leaders from around the world have met at Windsor at an event hosted by HRH The Prince Philip and attended by the Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency Mr Ban Ki-moon.

The Long Term Faith Commitments to Protect the Living Planet launched at Windsor are perhaps the most powerful visible signs of the faiths taking up the challenge of protecting the natural environment. This is worth celebrating.

Faith leaders from around the world met at Windsor Castle at an event hosted by HRH The Prince Philip and attended by the Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency Mr Ban Ki-moon. One of the many delegates was our own Archbishop Seraphim Kykkotis, (Christian: Archbishop of Johannesburg and Pretoria of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa)

To date there have been 31 long-term commitments by the faiths to protect the living planet. They were launched on November 3rd at Windsor Castle's ARC-UNDP Celebration. Read the summaries of the plans in our special event booklet here. The plans can be found in the second half of the book. In the first half is a guide to how to write your own Long Term Action Plan.

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The Windsor Celebration is the launch of the ARC-UNDP inspired Faith Commitments for the Environment programme, in which faiths are assisted in creating long term plans that will protect the planet for generations. This programme was initially titled the Seven Year Plan Programme, to acknowledge the time that would be needed ARC has worked with different faith traditions to create a framework, through which they look at seven key areas where they might have extraordinary outreach in protecting the natural environment. These include: their assets, their educational outreach, their spiritual wisdom and insights into tackling crisis, their traditions of simple living, their advocacy, their networks and partnerships, and perhaps most important, their understanding of celebration.

More general details about the programme can be found on the ARC website where the full plans will be downloadable from mid November.

World's churches urged to ring bells against climate change

The World Council of Churches on Thursday called on churches around the world to ring their bells 350 times during the Copenhagen climate change summit on December 13 as a call to action on global warming. The leading council of Christian and Orthodox churches also invited places of worship for other faiths to join a symbolic "chain of chimes and prayers" stretching around the world from the international date line in the South Pacific.

"On that Sunday, midway through the UN summit, the WCC invites churches around the world to use their bells, drums, gongs or whatever their tradition offers to call people to prayer and action in the face of climate change," the council said in a statement.

"By sounding their bells or other instruments 350 times, participating churches will symbolise the 350 parts per million that mark the safe upper limit for CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere according to many scientists," it added. The chimes are meant to start at 3.00 pm local time in each location. The WCC brings together 348 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican churches representing about 560 million Christians in 110 countries.

The Council of European Bishops Conferences, which gathers Roman Catholic bishops and archbishops, is also supporting the campaign, according to a letter released by the WCC.

The UN summit in the Danish capital on December 7 to 18 is meant to produce a new global treaty to broaden cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change, but the negotiations are still riven by disagreements. The WCC acknowledged that plans for a bell ringing campaign have stirred controversy.

"In some countries, the question has been raised whether churches have the right to use their bells for what may be considered to be a political campaign," said Guillermo Kerber, WCC programme executive on climate change. "Those who support the campaign see the care of creation and of people's lives and livelihoods threatened by climate change more as an ethical and spiritual issue that, of course, has political implications, not in a partisan sense but referring to the common good," he explained.

Source: AFP World News / English Date: November 12, 2009
GENEVA, Nov 12, 2009 (AFP) -

Friday, November 6, 2009

Faith Leaders Have 'Widest Reach' on Environment, Says UN Head - News

Faith Leaders Have 'Widest Reach' on Environment, Says UN Head - News: "LONDON (RNS/ENI) United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told religious leaders on Tuesday (Nov.3) that they are uniquely equipped to pressure secular leaders to combat climate change.

Ban made the speech at a three-day conference on faith and the environment in England, organized by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation and the United Nations Development Program.

Ban told around 200 leaders representing nine of the world's major religious communities, 'The world's great faith communities occupy a unique position in discussion on the fate of our planet and the accelerating impacts of climate change. You are the leaders who have the largest, widest and deepest reach.'"
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