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Contact: Leigh Rogers
United Methodist Women Attending Climate Change Summit
Faith and belief in social justice drives delegation’s advocacy
A four-person United Methodist Women delegation is en route to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec. 7-18, 2009.
United Methodist Women, which has official non-governmental accreditation at the United Nations, is sending the delegation to advance advocacy on two major issues: greenhouse gas emissions targets and financial relief to communities affected by climate change.
The delegation’s members have a long track record of participation in environmental and other social justice issues:
- Esmeralda Brown, executive staff for United Methodist Women’s Global Justice and Green Team national action programs, will lead the delegation.
- Tupou S. Kelemeni is a board member of United Methodist Women from Honolulu, Hawaii, and a Tongan-American.
- Pamela Sparr, a consultant with United Methodist Women on the Countdown to Copenhagen campaign, is an economist and specialist on environmental justice.
- The Rev. Pat Watkins is a member of United Methodist Women’s Green Team environmental advocacy program and a Church and Community Worker with the denomination’s General Board of Global Ministries. Mr. Watkins leads environmental legislative advocacy efforts in the church’s Virginia Conference area and conducts workshops on the moral responsibility of the faith community to be stewards of God’s creation.
Ms. Kelemeni looks forward to adding her voice to the many who will advocate for the most vulnerable and participating in the Pacific Council of Churches in Copenhagen. “I’ve been deeply concerned about the serious dangers from effects of climate change facing the Pacific Islands and the small island nations,” she said.
United Methodist Women made work on climate change issues a priority and considers it a primary moral challenge of today. “This delegation will represent us well in our organizational goal to make our case for climate justice,” said Harriett Olson, chief executive officer of the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, the national policy-making body of United Methodist Women. “Our team has a three-point agenda: learn, network and advocate.”
“Copenhagen is a rare opportunity to hear directly from people who are experiencing the most immediate and harshest consequences of climate change,” said Sung-ok Lee, head of the Christian Social Action unit of the Women’s Division.
Thousands of representatives from faith-based and secular groups from around the world will attend the event, and United Methodist Women will be part of both faith-based and secular coalitions encouraging negotiators to step up to the plate on key issues.
The delegation will focus its negotiation and advocacy on advancing the stipulation and enactment of greenhouse gas emissions targets.
“We want governments to agree to strong, binding and fair greenhouse gas emissions targets,” Mr. Watkins said. “This means reducing global emissions so the atmosphere contains no more than 350 parts per million to prevent a dangerous tipping point that would make certain climatic changes irreversible.”
The delegation also hope to apply pressure on the United States to join other industrialized nations in providing adaptation aid to the most vulnerable communities in developing countries that suffer the devastating effects of climate change.
Ms. Brown argues that developing nations have contributed the least to the problem but are being forced to adapt to climate change. “Appropriate resources need to be made available to enable them to address unmet energy needs and grow in ways that reduce poverty while protecting the environment,” she said.
About United Methodist Women
United Methodist Women is an organization of 800,000 members whose mission is to foster spiritual growth, develop leaders and advocate for justice. For 140 years, United Methodist Women’s focus has been on improving the lives of women, children and youth, working people, immigrants and championing racial justice and environmental stewardship.