Finding hope in COP

Finding hope in COP

Leonard Chiti SJ

On the eve of my trip to Dubai for the latest climate change conference, the plight of the many millions of people in Southern Africa and what they go through on a daily basis was brought to mind.

The majority are classified as poor and many subsist on peasant farming and fishing to eke out a living. Others survive on the mercy of Good Samaritans.

In the last several years, I have been involved in advocacy around climate change. It began when I was part of a task team that developed some reflections on the matter. I have done a few academic works on the matter and lately contributed some theological reflections. I have been to the last two COPs and will attend my third.

In all these activities and events, what is paramount in my mind is how my commitment to tackling the veritable signs of the times benefit those who suffer the most.

What about those who have no alternative to their current livelihoods, fishing and agricultural communities and those that rely on biomass and to some extent on fossil fuel for energy?

What alternatives do they have to survive climate change? Rising sea levels, floods, droughts, and rising energy bills leave the majority even more vulnerable.

Where will hope come from?

It might come from the outcome of COP28 if people rise above vested interests and seek to promote the global common good as Pope Francis exhorted us all in Laudate Deum.

Hope will come from a transition to renewable energies and keeping the rise in global temperatures within sustainable limits. It will require people who place the interests of the poor before their own. There are not many who are inspired in this way.

This then brings us to you and me. What can you do to rekindle the fast fading hope as we draw closer to a climate change catastrophe?

Perhaps this Christmas you might spare a thought about that poor old widow who has no one to help her mitigate the negative effects of climate change let alone adapt. She is already suffering from poor harvests and uncertain rainfall seasons.

This Christmas, do your best to make the world a better place for all.

Leonard Chiti SJ is the Provincial of the Society of Jesus in Southern Africa and is attending COP28 where he will share the negative impact of climate change on his home region.

This article is an excerpt from the original article published in Jesuit Missions UK: Think of others this COP and Christmas.

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