Reflections from Copenhagen
From the left, Esmerelda, Tupou, Pam Sparr, Rev. Pat Watkins. Photo by Esmeralda V. Brown
Greetings to you from Copenhagen, in the name of Jesus Christ! What a blessing it has been for me to be a part of this team, and I have all of you, United Methodist Women, to thank, for affording me the opportunity. I want to briefly share with you my perspective and thoughts on this, the first day of this incredible adventure.
I am so happy that Esmeralda and I arrived over the weekend, because it gave me a chance to get a feel for the conference on a personal level, and having Esmeralda, a seasoned traveler and executive, as my personal trainer, was as an added bonus. Those of us that have gone and will go to Assembly, will have some idea of how these large conferences operate, except this summit you may imagine it times thirty. Yes! It is that big, with people from all over the globe meeting, discussing, sharing ideas of how we might be better stewards of God’s earth. Of course, all these people are here with many different agendas and ideas, but our delegation is crystal clear on our mission and purpose. As I sat and listened to the discussions within the plenary, and at other side events that were offered, it was rather puzzling to hear none of the human aspects of climate change as the main focus. They did show a short video at the beginning of the opening plenary, reiterating the fact that if we do not take care of the earth now, it will be the future nightmare for our children. True enough now do something about it.
I am here in Copenhagen because I care about people, especially women, children and youth. I must learn all that I can, go home and share all that I have learned here, and advocate in every possible way that I can. People in many different parts of the world (including my beloved country of Tonga in the South Pacific) are experiencing the adverse effects of climate change through no fault of their own. We must all try to share the burden of this heavy load. If not for ourselves, then do it for the children, do it for the voiceless women of the Global South, do it for the youth and the future of our planet earth. I’ll be back again soon. God bless.
TUPOU KELEMENI (UMW Director) *
* * *
I am excited that we can communicate so easily with United Methodist Women via the internet and share as a team a bit of our different perspectives concerning what we are experiencing at this amazing event. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this team and am appreciative of the generosity of United Methodist Women who enabled us to be here. I am thinking of women like my aunt who has been a loyal UMW for more than 50 years and her unit in a small, rural Texas church.
It was a long day for some of us. We began in prayer and then some of us stood more than 3 hours outdoors in the cold and wind waiting to get inside the main hall where the official UN conference was being held in order to get our official pass to attend the governmental events. Standing outside so long gave us an opportunity to meet other people in line and hear their stories. I am listening especially for examples of how climate change is affecting women and girls and stories of what women and girls are doing to address this challenge. I heard my first “good news” story in line about a biofuel cooking stove than could run on sugarcane pulp. This new technology has many advantages: it reduces indoor air pollution which kills nearly two million people each year – primarily women and children. It reduces greenhouse gases and helps rivers stay clean because sugarcane pulp is often dumped in rivers after the manufacturing process. I know that while creative use and development of new technologies – from simple cooking stoves to sophisticated new renewable energy systems is a part of the solution, it is not the main key. We need a change of heart, a change of habit, and a change of policies that govern how we live together justly and joyfully on this planet. I also end my day in prayer. I pray that my presence here, our whole team’s effort, can contribute in some small way to bringing this about. PAMELA SPARR (UMW Consultant on Climate Justice)
From the beginning of my first day, I have been so impressed by the diversity of folks here, especially young women from all over the world. They will make a very positive difference in the world and it gives me such great hope! I continue to think in terms of the Kingdom of God; for that is why I am here, I think, to attempt to take all of this in and then think about how this will make a difference to God’s kingdom. The vision of God’s creation before humanity came along continues to inspire me. Our task is to put our planet back to the way it was as God intended. Lots of people are talking about lots of different things around here, but I’m here to talk about God’s creation and God’s kingdom. My contribution, I pray, will be to enable God’s kingdom to become just a little more of a reality. Please pray that prayer with me.
PAT WATKINS (Green Team) *
We began our busy schedule on Saturday, December 5th, where Tupou and I attended an all day Orientation and Strategy Meeting by the EcumenicalClimate Secretariat held at the Danish Church Aid premises.The meeting was very helpful since it provided important information as to the history of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change and the Kyoto Protocol and its implication, particularly for the Global South and the issue of Climate Justice for poor nations been affected by climate change and climate migration. The issue of mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology and capacity building and the long term goal for emission reductions.
Today, December 7th Tupou and I were able to attend the official opening of the Conference since we were able to register officially on
Saturday. The Welcome Ceremony was attended by Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Denmark, the Mayor of Copenhagen, governments and approximately 2,000 participants. Approximately 20,000 to 30,000 persons are attending this conference from around the world.
Tupou and I also attended a workshop entitled: “What Copenhagen talks must deliver from a climate justice perspective”. It was a very good workshop. Our schedule begins early in the morning. We must take a bus then the train and a metro to get to the Bella Center. The transportation system is really nice and especially now that everyone is accredited to the Conference, we only have to show our badges and all transportation is free. We attend the morning NGO’s meeting and identify the meeting that each one of us identify as important. In the evening after dinner, we then met before going to bed for assessment and final coordination for the following day.
Esmeralda V. Brown (WD Staff) *
*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.