5 things to watch out for at the Bonn climate talks


Government delegates from almost every country in the world have started global talks on climate change in Bonn, Germany. What do we need to see from governments this year?

1. Keep the spirit of Paris alive and stand by their promises, to safeguard people’s lives and livelihoods

Two years ago in Paris, world leaders promised to prevent irreversible climate change, urged on by faith leaders, civil society and businesses.  Now governments must turn that promise into reality.  They must keep the momentum going to ensure the Paris Agreement delivers on its full potential.

The world is grappling with a new normal. Each year outdoes the previous as the hottest on record. Governments need to stand up and face the reality of deadly hurricanes, floods and droughts that are ruining people’s lives.  They must act to avoid tipping points and protect those at the frontline of chaotic weather.  To safeguard people’s health, alleviate poverty, promote strong and sustainable economic development and build just, secure and resilient societies.  

Tearfund’s Country Representative for Malawi, Vincent Moyo, says, “As Tearfund, through the local church, we are motivated to work on climate change because climate change is contributing highly to poverty. We cannot tackle extreme poverty without dealing with climate change.”



2. Transition to 100% clean, renewable energy

States, cities, and businesses are joining forces towards a renewable energy future but we need politicians to make good choices. In fact, the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of 47 countries most at risk, have already committed to use 100% renewable energy by 2050. Now we need developed countries to shift investments away from polluting fossil fuels towards clean, renewable energy.  In particular, people in poverty in rural communities in Africa and Asia need affordable local off-grid power, as over a billion people don’t have any electricity, usually living far from the grid. Renewable energy like solar power means cleaner air, electric pumps for farming, hospitals with lighting, and more new jobs.

3. Respond to civil society and faith-based voices from around the world

The Archbishop of Canterbury recently highlighted our moral obligation and how, through faith, we can find joy in loving our neighbours. Moreover, different expressions of the Christian faith are uniting around the need to care for our common home. For example, Christian leaders have signed a joint letter, calling on governments meeting in Bonn to uphold their promises. And Christians around the world are praying for the talks, as part of the Renew our World campaign, a global movement of Christians speaking out for a more just and sustainable world.

4. Agree a blueprint to turn Paris pledges into reality

Governments need to develop a blueprint for how the Paris Agreement works. At the moment it is still a set of principles.  Governments need to agree the outlines and details of a roadmap for where we need to go and how to get there, as well as the rules to comply with the Paris deal.

5. We have no time to waste – meaningful action is needed now

Governments need to set clear targets for cutting carbon emissions and how they plan to achieve them. The next 2-3 years are the last opportunity to cut carbon fast enough to keep global warming to a safe level of 1.5°C. The current Paris pledges for carbon cuts only make a third of what is needed to keep the world below a dangerous 2°C. This means that we are heading for global warming of 3°C with severe consequences for people living on the frontlines of a changing climate, like floods in South Asia, the hurricanes we’ve seen in the Caribbean and droughts that threaten people’s homes, harvests and livelihoods.  

Governments need to act now and turn their Paris promises into reality, before it is too late and transition to clean, renewable energy to safeguard people’s lives and livelihoods.

A prayer guide for the climate talks and actions to take, are available on the Tearfund website https://www.tearfund.org/en/about_you/action/

This blog was originally published on Christian Today.


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