Sunday 27 November 2011

Cradle of Humanity must not become its Coffin

This is the text of the greeting to the ‘We Have Faith – Act Now for Climate Justice’ Rally, held at King’s Park Stadium, Durban, on 27 November 2011. At the end of the multi-faith Rally and Concert, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu handed over a petition calling on world leaders at COP-17 to commit their governments to a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement.

'We want Climate Justice NOW!'

I greet you today not only as the Archbishop of Cape Town, and Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, but also, in my capacity as Chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, on behalf of Anglicans everywhere.

Jesus famously called his followers to ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ These memorable words reflect a far more ancient principle, shared by most religions and philosophies, and often known as the Golden Rule. It is the call to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves.

Today’s world is a global village. Our choices, our actions, affect everyone. In the twenty-first century, all of us are neighbours. How each of us behaves – and how we behave as societies, and as nations – reveals whether we view others with love, or with contempt. So today we ask ourselves, and we ask our governments, these fundamental questions: How do we want to be treated? How can we reasonably expect to be treated by others?

Who wants their health, their livelihood, their security, their very existence to be threatened by climate change? None of us, I am sure. Then all of us must act together to ensure it does not happen. And this means that all our governments must ensure it does not happen. For we elect our governments to promote our well-being. And our well-being can only be ensured if the well-being of all is also ensured. And the well-being of all can only be ensured if we all, and all our governments, act together.

Faith, justice, and democracy coincide here. We might even say that selfishness and selflessness demand the same outcome. All of us, every person on this planet – and indeed, every living creature on this planet – needs COP-17 to make clear, ambitious but just, binding commitments, for the sake of our very future.

South Africa is the cradle of humankind. We must not let it become the place where we drive the nail into our own coffin. This is what we pray for, we call for, we strive for.

'We want Climate Justice NOW!'

May it be so. Amen

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town. Inquiries: Ms Wendy Tokata on 021-763-1320 (office hours)