Prayer vigil – Light for Lima
In keeping with Advent as a time of prayerful expectation, a “Light for Lima” prayer vigil was held on Tuesday night to pray for the success of the UN climate negotiations being held in Lima, Peru. Inspired by the global multi-faith network, OurVoices.net, similar vigils are being organised all over the world to pray for progress towards an international treaty at this year’s talks.
A special focus for the vigil, which was held in Sydney’s picturesque Botanic Gardens, is our nation’s role in addressing the challenge of global warming. “Australia has not been acting responsibly as a global player,” said Thea Ormerod, President of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change. “Not only did Australian delegates frequently block consensus at last year’s negotiations, but we are now listed along with Canada as the two worst performers of all industrialised countries on the Climate Change Performance Index.”
“It is deeply unethical to have a low emissions reduction target of 5% below 2000 levels by 2020, well below that of other industrialised nations, and to not contribute to the Green Climate Fund,” said Ms Ormerod. “On top of this, we export coal and gas, thus profiting from further emissions overseas. One of the things we’re praying for is a change of heart among our own Government.”
The UN Green Climate Fund, designed to meet the adaptation and mitigation needs of developing countries, has attracted commitments totalling $11.75 billion before the meeting in Peru.
Pacific Islanders are expected to issue a strong appeal at Lima, for policy action to be scaled up. “Climate change displacement is a growing possibility for the people of the atoll nations of the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and Kiribati, for the people of PNG’s Carteret Islands and too for Australian atoll communities in the Torres Strait,” said Ms Maria Tiimon Chi-fang, an I-Kiribati woman working with the Pacific Calling Partnership.
Aunty Togiab McRose Elu is a Torres Strait Islander and the Elder in Residence at Griffith University. She said: “Global warming isn’t just a theory in Torres Strait, it’s lapping at people’s doorsteps. The Islanders are watching king tides get higher and higher, invading more and more of the land and fresh water sources. There are days that the airport is closed and the islands are stranded. The world desperately needs a binding international agreement.”
The Lima talks are an opportunity for governments to harness momentum that has been growing around the world for months. In Lima, governments can lay the foundations for a new global treaty, binding on all countries, to be finalised in Paris at the end of next year.
This includes getting nations to begin crafting more ambitious emissions reduction targets, so global warming can be contained to no more than 2° C. It is also expected that support will be built for the Green Climate Fund.
The Sydney vigil was organised by ARRCC together with the Faith Ecology Network, the Columban Mission Institute and the National Council of Churches Eco Mission Project. The growing global phenomenon of prayer vigils and fasting at the time of UN climate negotiations could be a sign of growing community concern about the pace of progress.