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SOUTH AFRICA: Tutu, Makgoba challenge governments on climate change

[Episcopal News Service] Governments must act to ensure that the health, livelihoods, security and existence of all people are not threatened by climate change, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town told the "We Have Faith - Act Now for Climate Justice" rally, at King's Park Stadium, Durban, on Nov. 27.

The rally was held as representatives of the world's governments, international organizations and civil society were planning to convene for the COP-17 climate change conference, meeting Nov. 28-Dec. 9 in Durban.

Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu addressed thousands of people at the multifaith rally, after which he handed over a petition to the U.N., calling on world leaders at COP-17 to commit their governments to a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement to combat climate change.

The full text of Makgoba's address follows.


Jesus famously called his followers to 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' These memorable words reflect a far more ancient principle, shared by most religions and philosophies, and often known as the Golden Rule. It is the call to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves.

Today's world is a global village. Our choices, our actions, affect everyone. In the 21st century, all of us are neighbors. How each of us behaves – and how we behave as societies, and as nations – reveals whether we view others with love, or with contempt. So today we ask ourselves, and we ask our governments, these fundamental questions: How do we want to be treated? How can we reasonably expect to be treated by others?

Who wants their health, their livelihood, their security, their very existence to be threatened by climate change? None of us, I am sure. Then all of us must act together to ensure it does not happen. And this means that all our governments must ensure it does not happen. For we elect our governments to promote our well-being. And our well-being can only be ensured if the well-being of all is also ensured. And the well-being of all can only be ensured if we all, and all our governments, act together.

Faith, justice, and democracy coincide here. We might even say that selfishness and selflessness demand the same outcome. All of us, every person on this planet – and indeed, every living creature on this planet – needs COP-17 to make clear, ambitious but just, binding commitments, for the sake of our very future.

South Africa is the cradle of humankind. We must not let it become the place where we drive the nail into our own coffin. This is what we pray for, we call for, we strive for. May it be so. Amen

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