Monday, December 5, 2011

The Waiting Begins: Day Seven & Eight at UN Climate Change Forum

The waiting times have increased. The arrival of new delegates is seen in the crowed shuttles and the longer lines through security. Waiting will become a new norm.

As we wait, feelings of cynicism, hope, and frustration churn around us. Like dust devils the swirl of emotion can appear out of nowhere. They can be spawned by a single statement made by a negotiator. Some from developed countries express hope in finding a way forward. Others, already impacted by climate change express deep frustration.

Formal meetings rested on Sunday and the International Conference Centre was quiet. In this pause, Faith leaders from around the globe representing seven world religions gathered for an interfaith prayer service. While the participants held different beliefs they were drawn together by a shared knowledge: there is only one earth. And so, we all prayed that the negotiations of humanity would be led to find a common way forward.

Negotiations continued on Monday. The arrival of Ministers and Heads of States through the weekend heightened the push for progress. It’s hard to read the posturing. Positions are taken to establish a bargaining chip, not necessarily to secure agreement. However others, who do not have the luxury of leveraging power, are simply raw statements of pleading.

There seems to be a common willingness to agree to some form of legally binding agreement that has common responsibilities for all countries. But what such an agreement would include is not clear. There is also a growing sense that the time required for such an agreement to be developed is already determining defeat.

“We have no more time,” expressed a delegate from Nigeria. “If we cannot agree on a second commitment of the Kyoto Protocol, let us lay it aside and prepare ourselves to die.”

Many of the meetings are now closed to observers. And so we wait. We wait to hear that our prayers are being answered and countries reflect commitments that move beyond national interests. We wait for dust devils of emotion to be replaced by gentle breezes of compassionate solidarities. Humanity can cause dramatic and damaging change to the environment. But God can dramatically change the atmosphere of self interest and political posturing.

For this we pray. For this we wait.

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