Friday 04 September 2015 at 18:12What We Do Today Will Matter
With the COP21 international climate talks coming up in Paris this year — talks that are meant to bring about a universal, legally binding agreement to combat climate change effectively — Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) spoke with two young South African women, both committed environmental activists featured as part of Mail&Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans last year. This is the first of two interviews.
Lydia Mogano, an Evangelical Christian, has been involved with climate change issues since joining the SAFCEI in 2012. She studied Environmental Psychology and completed a Masters researching bio-cultural diversity and conservation.
What is your involvement with climate change?
I have been very involved with climate change issues and have attended various climate change events, including two COP international climate talks.
What do you think is important for people to know about climate change?
Climate change is not a separate issue out there that still has to happen. It is happening right now and right here; it is part of our everyday life, even if some of us have not felt it in the raw way other communities have when floods, droughts or cyclones have hit them.
The more we delay in addressing this global problem, the more we risk severe and irreversible impacts. [T]he worst part of this for me is that the poor, marginalised and vulnerable will be the most hit.
In what ways do we need to act?
I believe one of the ways to do so is by beginning to live consciously and intentionally again. We can no longer live as if the world’s resources are infinite and should consider the material choices we make and what impact these make. Climate change is exacerbating our already existing problems of food security, water scarcity and health issues — we can’t afford to live carelessly any longer.
What do you think faith has to do with climate change?
Faith, I believe, helps us to respond appropriately: in an ethical and just way. Faith provides us with the moral compass to navigate this time we find ourselves in.
I am involved in a multi-faith campaign, We Have Faith – Act Now for Climate Justice, which will be mobilising in South Africa from 1 – 6 September through a pan-African cycling caravan that will travel through Southern Africa. Working on this has inspired me; to see people from various faiths come together and work for climate justice, at a time where the world is still experiencing religious conflict, gives me hope that we can all do it. We can all work towards the common goal of addressing climate change and set aside our differences. Campaigns such as these can be vehicles for uniting people nationally and globally.
What final message would you like to impart?
With the COP21 in Paris approaching, I would really like to call on all South Africans to make this Climate Conference their own again. We cannot allow ourselves to be soothed by promises made by our governments any longer. We need to move beyond all the other COPs and make sure that legally binding agreements are made. It is us people on the ground that can make meaningful change if we move beyond our individualistic thinking and living and lead by example together.
We speak of democracy, we need to start living it. This means changing our priorities from just the self, to include those around us and the generations to come. We need to embrace unity and collaboration and work together as a community.
I appeal to everyone to collectively act, on climate change, on the upcoming COP21, on living ethically and with intentionality. What we do today will matter.
Header image via flickr user warrenski