It Begins Tomorrow – How Does it End?

It Begins Tomorrow – How Does it End?

The United Nations Summit on Climate Change (called COP21 for bureaucratic reasons) begins tomorrow and runs through December 11.  Many people believe it’s the last chance for governments to agree on policies to avoid catastrophic consequences from global climate change.  What follows is from a longer official statement from Catholic religious leaders worldwide addressed to the conference participants.


Representing the Catholic Church from the five continents, we Cardinals, Patriarchs and Bishops have come together to express, on our own behalf and on behalf of the people for whom we care, the widely-held hope that a just and legally binding climate agreement will emerge from the negotiations of the COP 21 in Paris. …

In his encyclical letter, Laudato si’ (LS), addressed ‘to every person living on this planet’ (LS 3), Pope Francis claims that ‘climate change represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity today’ (LS 25). The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all (LS 23). The natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone (LS 95). …

Damage to climate and environment has enormous repercussions. The problem arising from the dramatic acceleration of climatic change is global in its effects. It challenges us to re-define our notions of growth and progress. It poses a lifestyle question. It is imperative that we find a solution that is consensual, because of the scale and global nature of the climate’s impact, it invites a solidarity that is universal, a solidarity that is ‘intergenerational’ and ‘intragenerational’. (LS 13, 14, 162)

The Pope defines our world as ‘our common home’ and, in the exercise of our stewardship, we must keep in mind the human and social degradation which is a consequence of a damaged environment. We call for an integral ecological approach, we call for social justice to be placed centre stage ‘so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’ (LS 49). …

Reliable scientific evidence suggests that accelerated climate change is the result of unrestrained human activity, working to a particular model of progress and development, and that excessive reliance on fossil fuels is primarily responsible. The Pope and Catholic Bishops from five continents, sensitive to the damage caused, appeal for a drastic reduction in the emission of carbon dioxide and other toxic gases.

We join the Holy Father in pleading for a major break-through in Paris, for a comprehensive and transformational agreement supported by all based on principles of solidarity, justice and participation. This agreement must put the common good ahead of national interests. It is essential too that the negotiations result in an enforceable agreement that protects our common home and all its inhabitants.

The plea is signed by the presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of the US, Canada, Asia, Africa, Europe, Oceania, and Latin America.  If you want something to pray for this week, the success of this conference is it.  It may well affect dramatically the world your children and grandchildren will inhabit.

Until next week, Peace.