Canadian leader attends U.N. meeting on climate
Director invited to South Africa, speaks to elected officials in CanadaBy Deborah Froese and Dan Dyck Mennonite Church Canada
WINNIPEG, Man. — For Mennonite Church Canada executive director Willard Metzger, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, began with a twist of irony.
On the eve of the event, Durban was in the midst of a destructive increase in rainfall after a spring of exceeding dryness.
“I anticipated some reference to this obvious irony,” Metzger wrote in a blog. “But the irony was never recognized, or at least never mentioned.”
The World Council of Churches invited Metzger to the U.N. climate change talks, which carries significance because MC Canada is not a WCC member and is a relatively small denomination.
Metzger previously shared a biblical perspective on climate justice with the Canadian Council of Churches and with about a dozen senators and members of parliament Oct. 25 in Ottawa.
“Whether individuals believe that climate change is human induced or not, the facts remain that sea levels are rising, deserts are expanding, violent storms are becoming stronger and more frequent, and that the poor, especially children, are paying the highest price,” Metzger said.
His Ottawa address — first delivered at an interfaith panel on climate justice the day before — further exhorted political leaders.
“Whether the developed world takes responsibility for the effect of climate change or not, we have no other option but to take responsibility for our [North American] consumption patterns,” he said.
People of faith, Metzger said in a subsequent interview, have a moral obligation to ensure God’s creation is maintained as an expression of worship.
Metzger reported on the Durban talks in his daily blog. He shared the pain of those suffering most and statistics about their plight. Island states like Fiji lose homes and livelihoods as sea levels rise. Somalia reported climate change was responsible in 2011 for the deaths of 20,000 children and the malnutrition of 730,000 others. Thailand lost two-thirds of its 2011 rice harvest to flooding. In Kenya, rising temperatures, soil erosion and drought reduced the yield of the food staple maize to 20 percent of what it was 50 years ago.
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