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COP21: For Future Generations

“Every parent wants the best for their child…”

For a parent, a child is their love, their world, the most important thing in their life. Parents would do absolutely anything to keep their children safe and to give them the best possible lives. As a young married man, I ask myself, how can we steward the earth to make lives of flourishing possible for our future children?

World leaders from more than 150 nations have come together in Paris for COP21, the United Nations climate conference. These leaders came with powerful messages and similar goals. President Hollande of France remarked that “no conference has ever gathered so many leaders from so many countries… but never before have the international stakes been so high.” COP21 feels different than previous climate conferences. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said, “A political moment like this may not come again.” Many are anticipating that COP21 will be a breakthrough moment in tackling the challenging issue of climate change.

The nations of the world have an opportunity to make history at COP21. President Obama acknowledged that we must develop a meaningful deal because the “next generation is watching.” This is a rare event--world leaders are united in saying that their nations must take concrete action to ensure that world temperatures will have increased by no more than 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels by 2100.

At the opening session of COP21, President Áder of Hungary shared a conversation he had with his unborn grandchild in a dream. The dream was haunting; his grandchild repeatedly asked him why he did not take action on climate change despite overwhelming evidence from scientists. Áder stated that it was a heart wrenching dream because it could become a reality if no action is taken to address climate change. It’s time for us to start working harder in caring for a world that is worthy for future generations. As Christians, we must take action not only because world leaders have come together to tackle climate change, but because we have a God-given obligation to care for the earth.

The nations gathered here in Paris need to have strong commitments to help the most vulnerable countries adapt to climate change, and to help them build resilience and adapt to the conditions already caused by climate change. We can celebrate that already at COP21, Canada, the U.S., and several other developed nations have committed an additional 248 million dollars to the Least Developed Country Fund, a crucial fund to help lesser developed nations adapt to the impacts of climate change. (If you are Canadian, you can join your voice with World Renew and the Office of Social Justice to urge your government to do more to support small-scale farmers in the Global South as they adapt to climate change.)

The Bible reminds us that caring for people and caring for all of creation are dual tasks that God requires of us. These tasks go hand in hand. Genesis 2:15 states, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” The vision of stewardship is clear. We must care for the earth because it belongs to God and not to us. By caring for creation, we also care for our impoverished neighbors whose lives are threatened by degraded soil, rising seas, and a warming climate. By caring for creation, we care for the poor. It’s as simple as that.

This is not just about providing a better future for our own children, but also providing a better future for our brothers and sisters in developing countries being affected by a changing climate. We shouldn’t waste time arguing about the cause of climate change, but rather listen to the stories from our brothers and sisters suffering from climate change daily and take action.

So how can we give our children a better future? As Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” We need to start working hard to give our children the future they deserve--as Obama has said, we are the first generation to feel the effects of climate change, but the last generation who can do something about it.

Editor's note: To receive daily updates from the Christian Reformed delegation at COP21 or to browse past updates, visit this page

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