UUA Sponsors COP21 panel

At COP21 in Paris there are sponsored Side Events, open to delegates and official observers. The UUA has co-sponsored one. Here is the official summary.

"In discussions, participants considered, inter alia; opportunities for faith-based organizations to influence climate narratives; UNFCCC language and opportunities for ethical language in the agreement; and the place of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in the discussion of ethics."

Panel (L-R): Hugh Breakey, Griffith University; Peggy Clarke, UUA; Jan Dash, UUA; John Dernbach, Widener Law School; Donald Brown, PERC; Prue Taylor, University of Auckland; Peter Adriance, National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the US; and Peter Burdon, University of Adelaide.

Examination of How Nations Have and Should Consider Equity and Justice in Setting INDCs

Presented by: Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium (PERC), National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), and Widener University

This session, moderated by John Dernbach, Widener Law School, considered the role of ethics, justice and faith-based positions in relation to countries’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

Contacts:
More Information:

Peter Adriance, National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the US, spoke on the presence of faith communities in the climate change negotiations, and called for empathy towards other people when developing INDCs, stressing that “we are a single people on a single planet.”

Peggy Clarke, UUA, said we need a to change the current model in which the planet is at the bottom of a pyramid that serves a small, dominant class. Describing a paradigm shift towards an approach based on equity and concern for all life, she expressed hope that this could be a “liberating” challenge.

Jan Dash, UUA, presented on contrarian obstruction to climate change risk management, the aim of which is to influence against taking action, through tactics of “disinformation.” He described climate change risk management as an ethical issue, impacting the survival of our descendants and the global poor, underscoring the substantial risk posed by contrarian obstruction. 
He spoke on contrarian obstruction tactics including creating doubt around climate science through overemphasizing uncertainty and presenting “research” with no scientific basis.

Prue Taylor, University of Auckland, and Donald Brown, PERC, presented research from ‘Ethics and Climate Change,’ a publication assessing the national commitments of different countries. Taylor highlighted that a key outcome of the research was that states need mechanisms requiring them to behave ethically, or else they will continue to adopt self-interested positions in their climate policies. Brown explained that INDCs implicitly contain positions on the ethical questions of the acceptable atmospheric concentration of CO2 and of each country’s fair share of the global carbon budget, but do not explicitly defend these positions. She suggested creating an international mechanism to enable stakeholders and other countries to scrutinize INDCs using principles of ethics and justice.

Hugh Breakey, Griffith University, spoke on moral dialogue and its relationship to climate change. He stressed that moral dialogue is an ordinary practice that people undertake everyday, and suggested implementing a formal process of moral dialogue between states.

Peter Burdon, University of Adelaide, reported that while references to fairness feature in Australia’s INDC, they do not relate to substantive ideas about equity or justice, but rather compare Australia’s current position with previous commitments and those of other developed states. He lamented that the strongest ethical language tends to be used in reference to defending Australia’s use of coal.

Donald Brown, PERC, called for much more attention from media and NGOs on the ethical issues surrounding policy choices, underscoring that ethics are at the very center of climate change action.

Peter Adriance, National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the US, pointed to statements from several faith leaders in the past year on the relationship between people and the Earth, underscoring that 80% of the global population profess a faith.  

 Jan Dash, UUA, spoke on contrarian obstruction tactics including creating doubt around climate science through overemphasizing uncertainty and presenting “research” with no scientific basis.

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