World Council of Churches Office of Communication
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9 November 2001

WCC delegation at Marrakesh
Climate change negotiations: No solidarity for people and nature

cf. WCC Press Release, PR-01-39, of 26 October 2001
cf. WCC Press Feature, Feat-01-19, of 9 November 2001

As the negotiations at the 7th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change in Marrakesh (COP7) draw to an end, the delegation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) is sceptical about the possible outcome. "More and more we see that nature and the poor do not have a voice in the political negotiations," says Elias Crisostomo Abramides from Argentina, head of the WCC delegation. "The rich countries which are already doing little to combat climate change want to do even less. What worries us is that there is no solidarity, either for people or for nature."

"The discussions on technical matters, already agreed at the last meeting in Bonn in July this year, proved to be very difficult and tough in Marrakesh. Some countries, such as Russia, are not satisfied with what they got and keep on negotiating, thus delaying the final decisions that have to be made by the ministers today", says Abramides.

Despite this criticism, Abramides is still optimistic that there is a "decent chance of getting an agreement". "Sadly, the commitments in this agreement will in effect only reduce greenhouse gases by one third of the amount originally agreed in the Kyoto Protocol."

WCC delegation member Nafisa Goga D Souza from India worries that the developing countries are being left behind: "As efforts are made to save the Bonn Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol, issues of equity have taken a back seat."

Abramides, speaking on behalf of the WCC, expressed these concerns to the conference plenary on Thursday, 8 November. His statement supported the call of Indigenous Peoples for a separate working group at future climate change negotiations. Abramides also emphasized that religions have a significant role to play in modern societies: "They have to promote care for the earth and establish a language of the heart and of the spirit which will surely have a great influence on the climate change negotiations."

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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 337, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.