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December 10th: Hold on to the vision

Climate talks have a reputation for not meeting deadlines - but there's generally a real will to reach agreement in Paris, and the French leadership, which has been widely praised for its transparency and skill in handling the negotiations, has managed to keep everyone focused.
As a result, a new ‘clean’ draft of the Paris agreement was released on schedule on Wednesday afternoon. As we write this, the delegates are literally meeting through the night to get a new draft by this afternoon and agreement by Friday.
The new text is much shorter, and 75% of the 'bracketed elements' – things under debate – have been resolved. Overnight, COP President Laurent Fabius and French ambassador Laurence Tubiana have chaired discussion sessions around three key issues:  differentiation (how are the responsibilities of developed and developing countries defined?), 'support'  (including climate finance) and ambition (including potential temperature targets). Meanwhile the president of last year's talks in Peru, Manuel Pulgar Vidal, has chaired discussions on loss and damage, the preamble to the agreement and other key areas.
Many of the elements of a deal that involves climate justice are there in the options under discussion – but will countries choose them? Or will they follow selfish interests in a way that works against the common good?
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”                    Matthew 22:37-40                                             
 As the delegates continue to work, we continue to pray:
  • that they will have the energy, wisdom and courage to make decisions that care well for our common home and enable people everywhere to flourish
  • for areas of the world where climate change is already changing lives, especially small-island states and low-lying coastal areas, where rising seas are already endangering people's lives and livelihoods
  • for a sense of justice to underpin all the final negotiations in Paris and to move aside the final blockages, so that responsibilities to reduce emissions, finance adaptation, and compensate for climate-related loss and damage are shared fairly
  • in thanksgiving for the way God is moving people to pray together – may God use our joining in prayer for His glory and the good of all.
 'Holy Trinity, One God, be among the nations as they unite in Paris at this critical age of the world for the 21st session of the Conference of Parties. Grant those with earthly authority the wisdom to see the fragility, dignity, and goodness of all humanity and all creation, which you entrust to us, as one family, to nurture, protect, and love. Lord Jesus, send forth your Spirit among the powerful of the world so that they may observe the laws of the Father. May this fidelity result in lasting agreements that will ease the human causes and suffering of a warming climate.'
Prayers from Pray & Fast for the climate. Prayer excerpt from Prayer for COP21 Inspired by Laudato Si', contributed by the Global Catholic Climate Movement.


Photo credits: Pacific delegates pour over the draft text  COP21