Despite President Obama’s urgent tone and expressed commitment to reach a climate deal in his Copenhagen speech on Friday, the United States is still not doing enough, said a Christian relief agency.
“Unfortunately he (Obama) completely contradicted himself – the U.S.’ actions in terms of figures for action on mitigation and finance, even after yesterday’s announcement, just don’t stack up or equal survival for people and the planet,” said Paul Cook, director of advocacy at U.K.-based Tearfund.
“There were no new pledges on targets and a complete failure to acknowledge the fact that the richest and most powerful nations must take responsibility for the climate crisis that they have caused,” he said.
In front of delegates at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Obama declared that the United States is already on board with a global climate change deal. He challenged other world leaders to also make the commitment for the sake of people around the world.
“There is no time to waste,” he said. “Now I believe it’s the time for the nations and the people of the world to come behind a common purpose. We are ready to get this done today, but there has to be movement on all sides.”
Obama noted that international talks have occurred for nearly two decades with little to show.
“The time for talk is over,” the U.S. president declared.
A day before Obama’s arrival in Copenhagen, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the United States’ willingness to support a $100 billion global aid package to poor countries. The United States and other countries would contribute $100 billion a year by 2020 to address climate change needs in developing countries, she said.
However, U.S. money comes with two requirements: the nearly 200 countries gathered must agree to a global deal to cut emissions, and China must provide more transparency to show it is complying with the commitment.
In other words, emission cuts must be measurable, reported on, and be verifiable.
“I am encouraged by this major announcement by Secretary Clinton on aid to developing countries,” responded the Rev. Jim Ball of the Evangelical Environmental Network, who is currently in Copenhagen, in the group’s blog. “It’s great that it may help to un-stall the talks here."
“But to play off of the old saying that the devil is in the details, righteousness is also in the details,” he added. “We need to know more of the details before we can fully celebrate this $100 billion-a-year offer,” he cautioned.
The $100 billion-a-year aid package, though sizeable, falls short of the $150 billion-a-year aid fund that a network of religious groups has called for.
Last Saturday, more than 3,000 simultaneous candlelight vigils took place in over 130 countries calling for a “real deal” in Copenhagen.
Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who participated in the Copenhagen vigil, called for an agreement in which developed nations committed to reducing their 1990 carbon dioxide levels by 40 percent by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050. Developed countries should also contribute $150 billion per year to assist developing nations to reduce their carbon emissions and adapt to the consequences of climate change, he and other religious leaders urged.
But on the other side of the debate, a minority group of Christians have argued that a cap-and-trade policy on carbon emissions would be devastating on the world’s poor because it would raise energy prices. They argue that while global warming is real and likely caused by human activities, science has not proven that climate change is having as serious an effect as some scientists and mainstream media have claimed.
Despite debate on the effects and best response to climate change, there is little disagreement among Christians that humans should be good stewards of God’s creation. The use of the term “creation care” has helped put environmental protection in biblical context and allow Christians to integrate conservation into their faith life.
The two-week-long U.N. climate conference concludes Friday.