Monday, August 17, 2015

Archbishop of Capetown: "Climate Change is a Moral and a Justice Issue"

Fran Witt Interviews Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, the South African Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, and Global Climate Ambassador for the ACT Alliance.

Why did you get involved in the fight against climate change?

I engage on issues on the basis of scripture. I start from there as it is written: ‘Speak out for those who cannot speak. Speak out for the rights of all the destitute, speak out and judge righteously for the rights of the poor and needy.’

We know that climate change affects the poor and the vulnerable, particularly women. And so it is a moral and a justice issue, and I was happy to accept when approached to become Global Climate Ambassador for the ACT Alliance.

How does climate change affect Africa?

Africa is hit hardest by climate change, and we are the less prepared. That makes us vulnerable and turns climate risks into disasters. The Horn of Africa is suffering from increasing droughts. While we used to face droughts every seven years or so in the past, countries like Ethiopia and Kenya are now suffering from severe droughts every third, or even second, year.

What are your expectations for the climate summit in Paris at the end of the year?

I am aware that Paris is only another milestone on a longer lasting journey towards a better, ‘decarbonised’ future. But Paris can become the turning point to enter a new age. To make this happen, Paris must provide a climate treaty that makes all countries accountable, and provides support to those in need.

What needs to be done at the global level to protect and the support the most vulnerable?

People all over the world need to act together now. We have to make the leaders contribute to a just climate and help the people who are really suffering. Those who are at high risk deserve our support to reduce the risks. And if nations are overburdened by the climate challenge, the global community has a moral and political responsibility to provide support. We must not forget that we are one human family, and that we will solve the climate crisis only if we stand together firmly.

What does the encyclical from Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ — Care of our Common Home, add to the climate justice cause?

Pope Francis’s historic letter serves as a reminder to all people of faith that we have a moral responsibility to act on climate change. His message reminds us all that climate change is first and foremost a social and moral concern. God bestowed on us the gift of life, but with that comes the obligation to be protectors of our earth, our environment, and humanity. We must take our role as stewards of creation seriously, and act now to slow the causes of climate change, lest we leave an even bigger burden on future generations.

Is there a special role for the UK in supporting climate justice?

I warmly welcome the climate justice movement that continues to build in the UK. I was so moved to learn about the ‘Speak Up, For The Love Of’ lobby last month, and I feel a surge of hope to learn that people across the globe are pulling together to demand climate action from their leaders. We are building a global movement for change — each voice and each action is as important as the next. My heartfelt thanks to you all. Please join us by signing our petition at

Source: Christian Aid

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