Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Transforming Our Appetites: Day Three at UN Climate Change Forum

Maybe it is the humid heat of the approaching South African summer, but I don’t seem to have much of an appetite through the first couple days of the UN Climate Change Forum. I try to stay hydrated and make sure that I grab something for lunch.

The debates between the global delegations have been polite and courteous.  But the friendly atmosphere cannot mask the urgency felt by many countries – especially those who suffer daily because of climate change, as the delegation leader from Philippines lamented.

In fact as the debate centred on the proposal for a Green Climate Fund, many voices became increasingly insistent. When it became evident that reaching an agreement was not yet possible – some delegation leaders stressed the vital importance of reaching a consensus. “We must not leave Durban without some form of agreement. We cannot wait another year for action,” reminded the Belize delegate.

It is clear that there are competing values in the negotiating meetings. Governments have mandates to protect their national economies while also being committed to the reduction of negative climate influences. Wealthy nations want to be assured that they will not be expected to contribute more than their fair share, and developing nations want to make sure that wealthy nations provide their fair share. It is a delicate dance. But if the music of a healthy environment stops there will be no need to continue the dance. Maybe that’s why I have lost my appetite.

Or maybe appetite has felt unwelcomed in the debate. Indeed it is global appetite that has been the main contributor to a level of consumption that is unsustainable.  We cannot trust appetite to guide us towards a solution. When an appetite is under active it can lead to illness, preventing the body from securing necessary nutrients. When an appetite is over active it causes the body to consume more than is needed. God has created an earth able to provide all that is necessary to sustain us but not necessarily what our appetites crave.

As the People of God, it is with joy that we submit our appetites to God. In God’s justice, the hungry are fed, the thirsty are quenched – the earth has all that is needed to achieve this. In God’s justice, appetites are evaluated so that equity is fed – the image of God in us is all that is needed to achieve this.  May the appetite of God’s image consume us, until we all hunger for a display of God’s justice.

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