COP25 in pictures

As COP25 is about to draw to a close, hundreds of young people mobilize through Fridays for Future in a strike for the climate, inside and outside the venue of COP25 in Madrid, calling for urgent action for climate justice. All photos: LWF/Albin Hillert
As COP25 is about to draw to a close, hundreds of young people mobilize through Fridays for Future in a strike for the climate, inside and outside the venue of COP25 in Madrid, calling for urgent action for climate justice. All photos: LWF/Albin Hillert

”Time to act, to pray, for justice and dignity of God’s Creation”

(LWI) - The dust has just begun to settle, as COP25 drew to a close on Sunday, 15 December, after a record-breaking extension of negotiations. For climate justice, undeniably much remains to be done. Yet some hope is also there, as faith-based and civil society mobilization is growing to claim space in new ways.

And perhaps, as Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Vice-President Rev. Dr Nestor Friedrich put it, in the end climate change is an issue that “will help bring us together, for climate justice and social justice.”

Beyond negotiations: A COP of youth, women, indigenous and people of faith

This was the COP, that was due to take place in Chile, but which following political turmoil was moved to Madrid, Spain. Yet it continued to be spoken of as ‘the Latin American COP’.

 LWF/Albin Hillert

LWF Vice-President for Latin America and the Caribbean Rev. Dr Nestor Friedrich (left) and LWF COP25 delegate Fernanda Zuñiga from the Lutheran Church in Chile (right) light candles as people of faith gather in a 'Prayer for the Rainforest' as part of the Cumbre Social por el Clima, on the fringes of COP25 in Madrid.

“When we think of the Creation of God, we are thinking about our common house. And the Amazon is a very, very important part of this house. We need to pray to God, that his grace and mercy help us to awake, to see more seriously what is happening around us. It is time to act, to pray, it is time to call for more justice, dignity and respect for the Creation of God,” Friedrich from the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil, reflected.

 LWF/Albin Hillert

Tupá Mirim Joyan, a Guaraní man from Sao Paulo sings a traditional chant, bringing testimony of his indigenous roots and culture.

It was a COP of intergenerational justice.

 LWF/Albin Hillert

Dressed in green t-shirts reading 'Creation - Not for Sale', LWF delegates Erika Rodning from Canada (right) and Erik Bohm from Sweden (left) join Fridays for Future, as they create a 'human chain', demanding climate justice and urgent action from politicians at COP25 in Madrid.

”We must remind ourselves that young people are not just a token of participation. The world has witnessed the power of young people in bringing together millions of voices, calling for enhanced ambition and greater action. But sadly, the power of decision-making today does not lie in the hands of young people,” said Pranita Biswasi, LWF secretary for Youth.

“Inclusion of young people at the table of decision-making is necessary, as we are talking about our common future, and our common home,” she said.

 LWF/Albin Hillert

LWF delegate to COP25 Sebastian Ignacio Muñoz Oyarzo from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile holds a sheet of paper reading ‘Climate Change and Hope’, as well as including key discussion points summarized from an interfaith dialogue held on the eve of COP25.

 LWF/Albin Hillert

As people gather for an interfaith dialogue and service on the eve of COP25, a father and son look at a publication on climate change.

“This affects not only the people around us, but our families, our communities,” stressed LWF delegate Fernanda Zuñiga from Chile.

“Millions of young people around the world are already facing the daunting effects of climate change, with consequences for their food security, poverty, employment, health and safety. And the least responsible are worst affected. Therefore, climate justice is intergenerational justice,” Biswasi added.

This was a COP of continued ecumenical mobilization.

 LWF/Albin Hillert

Faith-based participants from the LWF, World Council of Churches (WCC) and ACT Alliance join in as thousands upon thousands of people march through the streets of central Madrid as part of a public contribution to the United Nations (UN) climate meeting COP25, urging decision-makers to take action for climate justice. Here, Athena Peralta (center), Elena Cedillo (left) and Dinesh Suna (right).

It was a COP of firm pushes by interfaith partners, for peace with the earth, and peace with one another.

 LWF/Albin Hillert

Religious leaders from a variety of faiths meet to hand over an interfaith declaration to Ovais Sarmad, deputy executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at COP25. Here, Pranita Biswasi from the LWF (right).

 LWF/Albin Hillert

Rev. Dr Nestor Friedrich, LWF Vice-President for Latin America and the Caribbean speaks, as representatives of various faith-based organizations meet with German Federal Ministry of Environment Head of Climate Finance, Norbert Gorissen, at COP25 – one of many examples of faith leaders urging governments on in efforts for climate justice. 

It was a fortnight where the message ‘Creation – Not for Sale’ resounded through the hallways of climate negotiations.

 LWF/Albin Hillert

People gather for a demonstration at COP25 in Madrid, under the slogan of 'Make Them Pay', urging that the big polluters of the world cease to pollute, while helping to finance efforts for climate justice.

ACT Alliance, LWF and WCC participants at COP25 illustrate the lack of balance in financing the global climate response, where most of the finance is put into mitigation, some into adaptation, but very little into loss and damage, even though that's where the people are. “What do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now!" they chanted. Here, LWF delegate Erik Bohm from Church of Sweden symbolically pours money into mitigation. Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert

ACT Alliance, LWF and WCC participants at COP25 illustrate the lack of balance in financing the global climate response, where most of the finance is put into mitigation, some into adaptation, but very little into loss and damage, even though that's where the people are. “What do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now!" they chanted. Here, LWF delegate Erik Bohm from Church of Sweden symbolically pours money into mitigation.

It was a COP where people raised their voices, that we must ‘hear the cry of the Earth’.

 LWF/Albin Hillert

A group of indigenous leaders set out to deliver a climate letter to the COP25 presidency, demanding that indigenous voices be heard in the climate process at COP25 in Madrid.

As an indigenous peoples’ rights activist and youth program coordinator, Esmeralda Pérez Hernández from the Lutheran Costa Rican Church attended COP25 sharing the importance of highlighting the traditional knowledge that indigenous people have been passing down through generation after generation, about how to live a spirituality of balance with the Earth.

“This will be so important for the global community in now trying to find a way to change its ways of living, in view of climate change,” she says. Similarly, she adds, the church in Costa Rica works on human rights, as this connects closely with climate issues locally as well as globally.

It was a COP when young people took the lead to make sure those voices rarely heard, get an opportunity to speak up.

 LWF/Albin Hillert

Press conference with Greta Thunberg and Fridays for Future, at COP25 in Madrid. "My story is already well known, so we are lending our voices today to others, whose stories need to be heard," Greta Thunberg said, introducing other young climate activists to share testimonies from around the world.

And it was a COP that concluded in some ways like it opened, with faith-based organizations joining in prayer.

 LWF/Albin Hillert

Faith-based organizations gather for a vigil, as COP25 is about to draw to a close, praying that negotiations will bear fruit, bringing about urgent and just action to find a way out of the climate crisis.

LWF delegate to COP25 Khulekani Sizwe Magwaza from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, also an LWF Council member, reflected as faith-based participants at COP25 gathered in a closing vigil: “I am already now starting to look forward to COP26. But to be honest, whether I can be there really depends on my survival, as in the past year, my country has been hit by heavy storms, floods and even tornadoes hitting my home community.”

He added, “And this same week that we have been meeting here, floods have hit our communities back home.”

Seeing Sunday’s conclusion of COP25, LWF program executive for Climate Justice Elena Cedillo said: “After two weeks of intense discussion and negotiations, it could not be more clear that the international community has failed at COP25 to take action as urgently and as comprehensively as is needed. We are facing a climate crisis and all governments, especially of the most polluting countries, must take urgent action to keep the global increase in temperatures below 1.5 degrees.”

Cedillo continued: “The most vulnerable people are already suffering the effects of climate impact, which is why the necessary financial support to reduce and address climate-induced loss and damages cannot be further postponed or delayed. Some important decisions will need to be taken in 2020, governments need to raise their ambitions, or otherwise thousands of people will continue to suffer.”

Gathered outside the COP25 venue, young people hold a banner stating ‘the world has woken up to the climate emergency’. The question is, have the politicians? Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert

Gathered outside the COP25 venue, young people hold a banner stating ‘the world has woken up to the climate emergency’. The question is, have the politicians?

“Yet again this year, the COP has left those millions in the state of suffering. The COP25 has overlooked and overheard the actions and the voices of the young people,” Biswasi added.

“But as people of faith, we will continue to doing advocacy, to mobilize, to pray, and to seek a way forward, so that we can achieve climate justice. We must take care of our common home, and we must constantly remind ourselves, our friends and neighbors, and not least our politicians, that Creation is not for sale,” Cedillo concluded.

 

Written by Albin Hillert