Typhoon Haiyan and the need for climate justice

A UMNS COMMENTARY

United Methodists have responded swiftly and generously to the devastation in the Philippines caused by Typhoon Haiyan, the largest storm ever recorded.

In the wake of this disaster, it is important for us to go beyond simple relief efforts. We must heed the warnings of climate scientists who point to present disasters and future dangers, including sea level rise and increasingly deadly storms linked to climate change.

In November, in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, leaders from more than 190 nations met in Warsaw, Poland, for the latest round of United Nations climate negotiations (the 19th Conference of the Parties, orCOP 19).Yeb Sano, the lead negotiator from the Philippines, broke down in tears,made a powerful and emotional appeal for bold actionand pledged to fast for the duration of the talks unless commissioners come to a substantial agreement addressing climate change.

Many people around the world have joined him in fasting.An interfaith group in Warsaw, which included Methodists, joined the fast, stating that “As we engage in COP19, it reminds us to relate the negotiations with our responsibility as a believer. We cannot live in isolation, but we must care for each other. As a principle of equity, we fast and reduce because we can for others who cannot.”

On Nov. 20, the tenth day of Yeb Sano’s fast,developing nations walked out of the climate talksbecause of the refusal by wealthier nations to heed their call for a financial mechanism to address “loss and damage” caused by climate change. This protest highlighted the fact that fossil fuels emissions now causing climate change have mostly come from industrialized nations, especially the United States.

As United Methodists who have long acknowledged and understood the dangers of climate change, we should not avoid raising the alarm. Future and more frequent disasters will be coming if we don’t respond to this threat.

This is especially important because the people of the Philippines, the Maldives and other island nations, Africa, and other hard-hit countries are pleading with those of us in wealthier, more powerful nations to take climate negotiations seriously. We must enter into solidarity with the people of the Philippines and other developing nations that are affected “first and worst” by climate change, and join them in calling for climate justice.

Read more on COP 19 from the World Council of Churches: Faith communities advocate climate justice at COP 19.

*Delgado, a United Methodist clergywoman, is executive director ofEarth Justice Ministriesand a speaker and author.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 ornewsdesk@umcom.org.

Sign up for our newsletter!

SUBSCRIBE

Latest News

Mission and Ministry
The Rev. David Wilson from the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference visits a home damaged by two recent snowstorms and subsequent flooding on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Photo by Ginny Underwood, UM News.

United Methodists offer lifeline to reservation

Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, UMCOR step in to help Pine Ridge Indian Reservation after devastating snowstorms.
Mission and Ministry
People wade through floodwaters following Cyclone Kenneth, which hit the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique in late April. Photo by Saviano Abreu, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Cyclone relief efforts continue in Mozambique

United Methodists offer supplies, spiritual support to survivors of Cylone Kenneth in the northern part of the country and Cyclone Idai in central Mozambique.
The Rev. Melissa Meyers. Photo by Moriah Safford.

Remembering Rachel Held Evans

A United Methodist clergywoman writes about how the work of the Christian writer — who challenged traditional views on the roles of LGBTQ people and women in the church — influenced her and many others.