Sister Joan Brown’s Reflections from Copenhagen, Part 19

Dec 19, 2009 | Copenhagen

Find previous reflections from Sr. Joan Brown.
Find out more about the religious voice in Copenhagen.

Sister Joan Brown, OSF, Director of NM IPL

Sr. Joan Brown, OSF, Director of NM IPL

COP 15, Saturday, December 19, 9 am

The news came through a recorded message of President Obama last night around 11 that COP 15 negotiations had ended. After a breakdown, once again earlier in the day, a conclusion had been reached. A paper, not a binding agreement had been produced with the hopes that a binding agreement could be reached in 2010. The paper allows for emissions reductions to remain within a 2 degree temperature rise, nationally appropriate action plans in an appendix to the paper, a mechanism for international climate financing and transparency with regard to international comittments.

A legally binding agreement will be very hard to negotiate in the future because there are so many views and realities of climate change, President Obama noted. It is no longer debatable that there is climate change and the issue is being dictated by science which requires stronger steps into the future, he also stated.

Given the corporate and political challenge in the US and the fact that no legislation has passed, perhaps it was too much to hope for a stronger outcome at COP 15. Unlike the rest of the world, it is also the reality that some do not believe climate change exists. If we are to move forward, perhaps it is by promoting the positive care of the future with energy efficiency, solar, wind, conservation and love of the beauty and the children of the planet.

As the fireworks sounded outside my window at midnight, marking the end of COP 15 there were no visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. Rather, there are many reflections moving within me on this winter solstice eve in this cold northland where sun rises at about 9 am and sets at about 3 pm.

We are still in the night, waiting for the light. In Christian tradition this is the Advent time of waiting with hope into an incarnation of love and life. Some other religious traditions might speak of it as a time waiting for a new consciousness that some expected might be birthed at this historic meeting. Never before have so many diverse nations and peoples gathered together in one place to sing, dance, speak, negotiate, demonstrate and plead for the cause of survival and life.

I consider myself a hopeful realist. Yesterday, I was very disheartened. Today, I am a disheartened, hopeful and ready to act human being standing with brothers and sisters of New Mexico and all who dwell with Mother Earth. We have much work to do. We have many prayers and meditations to be faithful to. We have hearts that must continue to long for the birthing of Love, Compassion and Action for Life.

Today, I am glad that I do not go to Bella Center. How could I look into the beautiful faces of the island peoples, the indigenous peoples, the people of Africa and other developing countries who came at great financial and heart expense to be courageous and speak at this conference only to leave knowing that their nations may soon be drowned in 2 degree temperature standards of rising water or to face more drought and hunger. As someone from one of the African nations said, for the developed world it is about keeping 3 meals a day, for us we would like to have three meals a day.

It was interesting that President Obama made the announcement of the decisions rather than Ban Ki Moon or another leader representing the UN. In the Denmark paper today, it is the picture of our President that I see with headlines that say this was a meltdown meeting. Great moral and ethical responsibility comes with being a nation that considers itself a leader. Are we leading? Can we lead? Leaders listen and somehow are able to collect the voices and the common good into an earthen bowl that can be filled with actions and sustenance for the common good.

For me, perhaps the most amazing reality of this incredible meeting was the gathering of civil society sharing meals, listening to stories, and working for life. These bonds cannot be denied. The truths spoken are recorded in the hearts and minds of all on the planet (even the water, plants and creatures were listening and witnessing.)

We have much work to do. Our work does not come out of drudgery, but hope and love and faith. Each time that Ban Ki Moon addressed the assembly he noted the religious leaders present in the civil society. Perhaps our role in addressing climate justice and justice for Mother Earth is more important than we have recognized to this moment.

Nearly a week ago I met the dancing, singing Danish youth in the town square who told me they had to dance and sing amidst the climate change concerns because they are humans and not robots. May we live and act out of our humaness this day into a solstice dawning.

Peace and good,
Your sister,

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