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

Theology and Education
The Rev. Laceye C. Warner is Associate Dean for Wesleyan Engagement and the Royce and Jane Reynolds Associate Professor of the Practice of Evangelism and Methodist Studies at Duke University Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina.  Photo by Les Todd.

John Wesley reminds us that grace is available to all

Seminary professor Laceye C. Warner writes that Wesley’s instructions to modern Methodists would be the same as Methodists of his day: Extend God’s love and grace to others.
Theology and Education
David F. Watson is Academic Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of New Testament at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. Photo courtesy of United Theological Seminary.

Wesley would call modern Methodists to return to their roots

Wesley knew that the people called Methodists were themselves liable to spiritual slumber. Seminary professor David F. Watson thinks Wesley would direct today’s church back to the intentional practices of the Methodist societies.
Theology and Education
The Rev. Steven W. Manskar is pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photo courtesy of Trinity United Methodist Church.

Wesley would urge modern Methodists to stay Christ-centered

Wesley’s advice on how to live and serve with fellow Methodists with varying opinions on doctrine and practice applies to United Methodists today, one pastor writes.