Catholics called by Bishops to engage on climate change

10 December 2014

Communities in Lake Paron, Peru, are facing water shortages as temperatures rise and glaciers retreat.

Catholic Bishops from around the world have come together to issue a statement setting out the moral imperative for action on climate change to protect the world’s poorest people – and to call on Catholics to engage with the issue of climate change. The statement is significant as it represents the first time Bishops from each continent have shared their thoughts on climate change together in one document.

In the statement issued in Lima this week, where many Church leaders are attending the UN climate talks, the Bishops highlighted their first-hand experience working alongside vulnerable communities and described how people were suffering as a result of climate change.

Pope Francis has also sent a statement to world leaders meeting in Peru, reported by Vatican Radio. “The time to find global solutions is running out," he stated in a written message to Peru’s minister of the environment and host president of the 20th UN Climate Change Conference. "We can find solutions only if we act together and agree.”

He stressed that the issues being discussed affect all humanity, especially the poor and future generations.

Suggesting responsibility for the current global warming system lies mainly with the dominant global economic system, the Bishops' statement calls for a deepening of the discourse at COP20 to ensure concrete decisions are taken in Paris next year to overcome the climate challenge and set us on new sustainable pathways.

Coming ahead of next year’s expected Papal Encyclical from Pope Francis on the environment, the statement demonstrates the Church taking a stronger role urging political discussions to reach a deal on cutting carbon emissions.

Rob Elsworth, CAFOD climate analyst in Lima, said: “We’ve seen a real groundswell of action from the Catholic Church in Lima ahead of these climate talks, and this statement – the most coordinated response from Bishops around the world to the issue of climate change – shows the Church plans to take a much stronger role in expediting political discussions to reach a deal on cutting carbon emissions in Paris next year.”

The statement makes clear the responsibility for Catholics to engage on the issue of climate change, noting: “We Bishops call on all Catholics and people of good will to engage on the road to Paris as a starting point for a new life in harmony with Creation respecting planetary boundaries.”

It makes clear that poorer nations have an important role to play in ensuring decision-makers develop tailored responses to climate change, rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This follows concerns that if greater assurances are not given to developing countries, around finance for climate adaptation, they will walk from the Lima negotiations jeopardising a new global climate deal being agreed next year.

Read the full statement from the Bishops

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