Bishops: "ambitious and immediate action" needed to avert climate crisis

Signed today, an appeal by six presidents of continental bishops’ conferences calls on government for action weeks before international climate talks

In the context of a recent United Nation’s report on the urgent need to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, Church leaders today signed a statement calling the world's governments to work towards an ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement for the people and the planet.

In short, they ask for the next United Nations climate change conference, which will be held in Katowice, Poland, in December, to achieve bold steps toward the goals of the 2015 international agreement forged in Paris.

The appeal was presented today in Rome and signed by Angelo Cardinal Bagnasco, President, CCEE, Archbishop of Genoa; Oswald Cardinal Gracias, President, FABC, Archbishop of Mumbai; Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, President, FCBCO, Archbishop of Suva; Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, President, COMECE, Archbishop of Luxembourg; Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi, President, SECAM, Archbishop of Lubango; and by Rubén Cardinal Salazar Gómez, President, CELAM, Archbishop of Bogota.

“Their inspiration comes from the work done on the ground by the many courageous actors within and beyond Catholic communities, who are spreading the Pope’s messages of Laudato Si’,” said a statement by the Catholic charitable umbrella group “Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité,” known as CIDSE.

Church leaders from Latin America, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Europe are jointly calling on governments to take concrete measures to shift towards a fair share of resources and responsibilities

Of note in today’s event is that the signatories demand rapid energy-use changes while resisting the temptation to look for quick technological fixes.

Church leaders from Latin America, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Europe are jointly calling on governments to take concrete measures to shift towards a fair share of resources and responsibilities, where the “big emitters take political accountability and meet their climate finance commitments”.

The call is based on the principles of urgency, intergenerational justice, human dignity and human rights. It revolves around some central points: keeping global warming below 1.5°C; shifting towards sustainable lifestyles; respecting the knowledge of indigenous communities; implementing a financial paradigm shift in line with global climate accords; transforming the energy sector by putting an end to the fossil fuel era and transitioning to renewable energy; and rethinking the agriculture sector to en-sure it provides healthy and accessible food for everyone, with a special emphasis on promoting agroecology.

Through this statement, the Church leaders also reaffirm a commitment to taking bold steps toward sustainability, a crucial contribution toward climate justice. Around the world, many in the Church are engaged in concrete initiatives to shift towards more sustainable communities and lifestyles, including a global movement for divestment from fossil fuels and a growing engagement in the Season of Creation.

The immediate reaction from Catholic groups on the front lines of climate action was, as expected, strong and supportive.

“We are inspired by this call from the Church which recognizes many of the efforts that Catholic organisations are carrying out to achieve climate justice, energy justice and access to food. We also feel supported in our call for a deep societal system change and are grateful to be part of a global movement calling for this. We believe this can only truly happen by shifting to a post-growth economy.” said Josianne Gauthier, CIDSE Secretary General.

Our friend Tomás Insua, Global Catholic Climate Movement Executive Director, added this: “This statement is a strong indication that the global Catholic Church is committed to accelerating action for climate justice. Church leaders are echoing Pope Francis’ emphasis on the urgency of the climate crisis. Every notch in the global thermometer is a tragedy for the most vulnerable, and we cannot lose even a moment to find solutions for them and for generations to come. The question is when political leaders will take up the challenge.”

Read the full bishops' appeal here.

Photo: Courtesy of Tomás Insua

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Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.