Vatican calls for ‘new solidarity agreement’ at UN climate change conference

12 December 2018

CAFOD's Director of Advocacy Neil Thorns chairs a Holy See press conference at COP24

CAFOD's Director of Advocacy Neil Thorns chairs a Holy See press conference at COP24

The Holy See has issued a call for a "new solidarity agreement" to tackle climate change at COP24, the UN climate talks in Poland. 

Monsignor Bruno-Marie Duffé, the head of the Vatican’s delegation to the UN climate change meeting, told a press conference that the world had to realise "we are in a special moment of human history" where "we are in a vulnerable situation together".

The press conference, which took place in the Polish city of Katowice, was chaired by CAFOD's Director of Advocacy Neil Thorns.

Calls for a 'Katowice Agreement' for solidarity on climate change

Monsignor Duffé, who is also Secretary at the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development in Rome, said:

"Perhaps our commitment in this COP24 is not only to listen and understand and to know, but to call for a new solidarity agreement.

"Like we had the Paris Agreement, we could have a 'Katowice Agreement'.

"Pope Francis, with many actors in the world, feels that we are in a moment for urgent decisions, for urgent action.

"We often say that the situation of our planet needs decisions for tomorrow - but tomorrow is today! We cannot only think of future generations. We have to develop dialogue between generations today."

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'Climate change has a human face'

Merci Chirambo from CAFOD's partner organisation Caritas Malwai told the press conference that solidarity was necessary to protect the world's poorest people from the impacts of the changing climate.

Merci said:

"When we talk about climate change, we hear so much about the science part of it and why we need to take urgent action.

"But then we live in communities where some of the community members might not even understand what climate change is all about. They might not understand the scientific version of it, but they are living it each and every day. Their livelihoods are affected. Climate change has a human face.

"Food security has been a major challenge for most of the households in our communities. In the past, people would have had enough, at least for their households. Currently, it's difficult to have enough even to feed your household.

"We are talking about communities who not only depend on agriculture for food security but they also depend on the sales from their harvest to be able to clothe their children, to be able to send them to school.

"Women are in the forefront when it comes to subsistence agriculture in Malawi. You see that climate change is affecting them even more than men. In our society... a woman is supposed to think about 'How am I going to feed my children? How am I going to send them to school?'

"The impacts of climate change, when you talk to the women, you can see that it's really affected them. It's not just about the physical aspect or the economic aspect, but emotionally as well."

See how to cut your carbon footprint and show solidarity with people affected by climate change

'Indigenous people live Laudato Si''

Auimatagi Joseph Moeono-Kolio, a Pacific climate warrior from Samoa, told the press conference that world leaders had to "ramp up ambition" in efforts to limit temperature rises.

Joseph said:

“We need to move beyond the language of climate change as just something that we negotiate with dots and figures and research and stats in a negotiating room and understand that it’s a very human issue.

“It’s an opportune time to recognise the sustainable lifestyles of indigenous peoples and indigenous knowledge around the world.

Joseph also spoke about the importance of Pope Francis's encyclical on climate change and the environment, which was credited by world leaders as an important contribution to the success of the Paris climate talks in 2015.

Laudato Si’ was released a few years ago and the world rightfully praised it. But it’s important to remember that indigenous peoples around the world have been living Laudato Si’ for generations.

“We need to be able to tap into the sustainable lifestyles of indigenous peoples around the world so that we can move the world past oil and coal dependency."

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