Durban, South Africa — The biggest climate change roadshow on earth and the biggest conference of its kind ever held on the African continent comes to Durban, South Africa, this weekend when the Indian Ocean city hosts delegates from 193 countries, plus a huge civil society contingent and others, for COP17-CMP7.
To drive action over talk, Nobel Peace laureate and South Africa’s favorite cleric, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, is inviting Africans and the world — including delegates, activists and the general public — to join faith leaders, political leaders and music stars at an “extraordinary” mass rally and afternoon concert.
The free “We Have Faith – Act Now for Climate Justice” concert and rally takes place at the King’s Park Stadium in Durban on Sunday November 27. Gates open at 10am, community entertainment from 11am, concert from 12:30pm, rally from 2pm.
“Apartheid seemed an overwhelming challenge that could not be defeated but we mobilized and defeated it. We need the same passion and determination to defeat climate change.”
“Apartheid seemed an overwhelming challenge that could not be defeated but we mobilized and defeated it. We need the same passion and determination to defeat climate change,” says Tutu.
The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol (CMP7) starts in Durban on November 28 and ends on December 9.
The Archbishop will host the “We Have Faith – Act Now for Climate Justice” rally and concert at which he will call on world leaders attending the COP17 climate change talks to reach a fair and legally binding agreement to curb climate change.
Top South African and African musicians including Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Arno Carstens, rap star HHP and Kenyan Gospel rapper Juliani have confirmed they will perform at the pre-COP17 rally.
Faith leaders including Pope Benedict XVI, Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams have been invited. Those who cannot attend have been asked to send video clips of support.
Environmental campaigners and motivational speakers Lewis “the human polar bear” Pugh and conservationist and extreme adventurer Braam Malherbe are two of many earth activists who will address the crowd.
“Climate change is an even greater threat to us than apartheid was because as temperatures rise, millions of Africans will be deprived of water and crops. This will cause enormous suffering. It is something we simply cannot allow,” says Tutu.
“In the face of such a huge threat, many of us feel numb and throw up our hands, believing we can’t make a difference. But we can make a difference — come to the rally. It will be an extraordinary event. And if you cannot come, please sign our petition on www.wehavefaithactnow.org. We want to have over one million signatures on these petitions at the rally to hand over the world leaders.
“Along with the many other faith leaders in the campaign, I appeal to you all — don’t hesitate to join us. Your support could help make a world of difference in keeping our planet cool.”
At the rally, Archbishop Tutu will hand over the petition to COP17 Chair, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who has confirmed she will attend to receive it.
UNFCCC executive secretary Christina Figueres has confirmed she will attend the rally. South African President Jacob Zuma is among the many key politicians who have been invited.
The “We Have Faith” petition calls on world leaders to commit to a fair, ambitious and legally binding agreement, for a renewal of the Kyoto Protocol, and for funding to help Africa adapt to climate change.
Students from dozens of schools throughout KwaZulu-Natal will also participate in the rally, presenting environmental-themed posters and messages to the leaders and performing song-and-dance numbers.
The faith leaders participating in the campaign are reiterating scientists’ predictions that that if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed, by the end of the century average world temperatures will rise between 2˚C and 4˚C, and up to 6˚C in parts of Africa.
Climate change is already causing unpredictable, extreme weather across the world, they point out. Large numbers of people, especially in Africa, are struggling to survive amid increasingly severe droughts, floods and other disasters.
Although Africans have done very little to cause climate change, they will be among the most devastated.
A new climate change treaty is crucial to prevent enormous suffering and loss of life, stresses Tutu.
South African finance minister Pravin Gordhan, Archbishop Tutu, activist Ela Gandhi, satirist Pieter–Dirk Uys, Free State University’s Prof Jonathan Jansen and author John van de Ruit are some of the public figures who have signed the “We Have Faith” petition, also signed by thousands across Africa.
The “We Have Faith” campaign includes a youth caravan traveling from Nairobi to the rally. A day of prayer will be held on December 4 for a just outcome to the talks.
Hundreds of youth activists and artists from many African countries, including South Africa, will travel from Nairobi to Durban in the caravan (comprising a convoy of “We Have Faith”-branded buses). The caravan has been staging youth-led climate concerts in cities including Nairobi, Dar Es Salaam, Lusaka, Gaborone, Lilongwe and Johannesburg (Soweto).
For more information, log on to www.wehavefaithactnow.org, follow the campaign on Facebook (“We Have Faith – Act Now” community) and Twitter (“COP17ActNow”).
Watch the YouTube video of Archbishop Tutu’s call to people to sign the petition.
Again, the free “We Have Faith – Act Now for Climate Justice” concert and rally takes place at the King’s Park Stadium in Durban on Sunday November 27. Gates open at 10am, community entertainment from 11am, concert from 12:30pm, rally from 2pm.