DOHA, Qatar (CNS) — Representatives of faith-based development networks participating in the U.N. climate change conference urged governments to put aside national interests and protect the common good, especially those most vulnerable to climate change.

Emilie Johann of the international alliance of Catholic development agencies, CIDSE, said the arrival of government ministers Dec. 4 should add some political leadership to the climate negotiations.

“So far, we have neither seen commitments to deeper emission cuts, nor money on the table to support communities which are most affected by increasingly extreme weather,” she said after a week of the conference.

“We should not think that climate action is about saving others. It is also about saving ourselves; we need to prevent the depletion of mankind.”


Government officials were to help firm up agreements prepared throughout the year and based on the outcomes of last year’s climate summit in Durban, South Africa. This year’s round of global climate talks, organized by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, is part of preparations for a new global climate deal by 2015.

Isaac Kabongo, executive director of the Ecological Christian Organization in Uganda, said getting clarity about climate finance is important “not only to help Uganda cope with a changing climate in the short term, but also to build more resilient communities, a more resilient economy, and a more resilient society for the future.”

“Putting money on the table is the first step,” he said. “But we must also ensure that finance mechanisms respond to the needs of the people who are most affected by climate change, making sure communities have access to funds to support their adaptation efforts.”

A recent World Bank report forecasts a 4-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures by the end of the century. Today, with an increase of less than 1 degree Celsius, increasingly extreme weather is already exacting its toll on those most vulnerable to climate change, according to climate activists.

Auxiliary Bishop Theotonius Gomes of Dhaka, Bangladesh, has repeatedly taken his testimony to world leaders over the past few years. His country is greatly affected by rising sea levels and erratic rain.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, he warned developed countries that “even though efforts have been made already, countries like Bangladesh will never be enough prepared” to adapt to increasingly extreme weather unless the support pledged by developed countries materializes.

Talking to Vatican Radio, CIDSE Secretary-General Bernd Nilles explained that faith-based organizations provide evidence and knowledge from the ground and really make the voices of vulnerable communities heard at international climate summits.

“Since we are working with communities worldwide, we know what the climate impacts look like for small farming communities,” he said.

Organizations like CIDSE also bring people who experience the effects of climate change firsthand to these international meetings, organize side events where negotiators can learn about solutions, and address national governments throughout the year.

“This creates real pressure, because governments know how much support, for example, Catholic organizations have in local communities, in the parishes,” Nilles added.

Kabongo spoke of the need to take action on climate.

“We should not think that climate action is about saving others,” he said. “It is also about saving ourselves; we need to prevent the depletion of mankind.”