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Paris reflection

January 2016

In December, Rev Sally Foster Fulton took Eco-Congregation Scotland's climate justice baton to the UN climate talks in Paris (COP21). Here she reflects on her experience.

Group including Sally Foster Fulton with Eco-congregation Scotland climate justice baton  

Sally Foster Fulton, far right, before departing for Paris. Credit: Eco-congregation Scotland

Prayer has been described as an expression of the deepest desire of your heart – that what you pray for, dream of, desire most, if you are consistent and persistent enough - frames you and sets your course.

So, if your real prayer is for justice for your neighbour and peace for your world, then that prayer will live itself out in your action. As I often heard when I was growing up, 'a prayer is not much use unless we're willing to do some work after the amen!'

COP21 was a phenomenal success, with one hundred and ninety five countries coming together to commit to real and binding agreements, agreements that can bring about substantial progress towards a sustainable future.

But, now comes the work after the amen!

If we are to keep global warming well below two degrees centigrade, not only do governments have to hold to their commitments, but we in the developed world have to hold our hands up and hold ourselves to account for our carbon footprint – these are changes that our consumption has brought about.

Supporting our politicians to push for higher targets and lobbying when they don't is important, but backing it up by reining in our own lifestyles will speak just as loudly as our campaigning.

If the developing world is to learn from our mistakes and develop sustainably, then the promises of funding, and support to adapt and to develop resilience must be honoured. US$100bn has been set as the floor, but we need to consider a higher ceiling if developing countries are to flourish.

My lasting memories of participating at COP21 will be of meeting partners from countries where lack of infrastructure and resource meant daily struggle and devastation due to climate change.

Our brothers and sisters who have had least to do with climate change suffer most from the chaos it causes. That is unjust and cannot be allowed to continue. I pray that the sincere negotiations and admirable commitments hold, but there is a lot of work to do now that the amen has been said.

I was astonished and saddened that only weeks after this monumental gathering, when floods again ravaged parts of the UK, there was little connecting of the dots, little public outcry about the causes of the flooding and what we could do to arrest the climate chaos that will only worsen if we continue to consume unabated.

Climate change was breaking down our front doors and the response was 'more defences'.

More flood defences will not defend us – only real personal and systemic change can do that. The floods brought home to the UK what other parts of the world have been dealing with for decades. Our prayer for positive climate change needs to end not just with an amen, but with action.


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