At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis urged the world to build a ‘better normal’ in our plans to rebuild from the crisis.
The Holy Father acknowledged that it was natural for us to want to rush back to normal after so many months of suffering and disruption. But Pope Francis reminded us that we had gone through too much to simply return to the ‘old normal’, with all its problems and injustices – including what he described as the ‘hidden pandemic’ of the climate crisis.
And Catholics across England and Wales have responded to the Pope’s message – in our thousands.
In the build up to COP26, we demanded that Boris Johnson use his position as Prime Minister of the host country to put the world on track to tackle the climate emergency.
With the COP over, we wanted to thank you for all you’ve done this year to raise your voices, demand action and help to reclaim our common home.
Thousands urge PM to put people hardest hit at heart of COP26
Storms. Floods. Droughts. Famines. People in the world’s most marginalised communities are already feeling the impacts of the climate crisis.
But we know that if global temperatures rise more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, these catastrophes will be more frequent, more severe and hit people in the poorest parts of the world hardest – despite these communities having done least to contribute to the crisis.
That’s why thousands of you called on the Prime Minister to make sure that leaders at COP26 put in place plans to rapidly cut the greenhouse gas emissions which are driving the crisis and keep temperature rises below that 1.5C level.
And it’s also why CAFOD supporters signed petitions to Boris Johnson urging him to ensure that the voices of people in the most affected communities were heard at COP26 – rather than being treated as an ‘afterthought’, as Pope Francis warns is too often the case.
We delivered your message to Downing Street ahead of the COP with those from thousands of other people of faith around the UK.
But we didn’t want to take the chance that the Prime Minister might miss it – so we projected it onto Parliament for him to see, just in case!
Urging Johnson and Sunak to show climate leadership
As hosts of the COP, the UK government had a crucial role to play in making sure that governments came to Glasgow with commitments to put us on track to tackle the climate crisis and care for our common home.
That meant that Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, as Prime Minister and as Chancellor, were vital figures in showing leadership – pushing their fellow leaders to pledge to cut emissions and meet their promises to provide money to countries on the frontline of the crisis.
It also meant that the UK had to show it was practising what it was preaching by putting in place plans for meeting its own strategy for cutting emissions to ‘net zero’ and playing its part in keeping 1.5C alive.
But there were concerns that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor weren’t doing enough to show that climate leadership, despite Pope Francis calling the fight to tackle the climate crisis “the greatest leadership opportunity of all”.
So 100 days before the start of COP26, CAFOD supporters joined with our friends in The Climate Coalition at Parliament Square to warn Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak they were “missing in action”.
And thousands more sent emails to the Chancellor asking him to step up and show climate leadership in the run-up to the COP.
Parliaments in your Parishes around England and Wales
We know that governments respond when they hear most directly from us – the voters who put them in post.
That’s something that parishes across England and Wales have been doing in 2021, setting up ‘Parliament in your Parish’ meetings with more than 112 MPs in constituencies across the land.
Parishioners reminded MPs of Pope Francis’s message and call for us to make sure that plans for recovering from the pandemic included everyone and cared for, rather than harmed, our common home.
Eyes of the World on Boris Johnson
With the UK hosting the COP, the world’s gaze was on Boris Johnson as head of the government.
It’s a message young Catholics wanted to send to Number 10, with more than 50,000 children and young people taking part in our campaign to remind the Prime Minister that the ‘Eyes of the World’ were on him in the run-up to COP26.
And we know the Prime Minister heard the message, as he reminded other world leaders at the COP itself!
Catholics take to the streets
Even after the COP was underway, we didn’t want to take the chance that governments in Glasgow would forget our message.
Hundreds of Catholics took part in marches during the middle weekend of the climate talks, raising their voices alongside millions of others worldwide to demand leaders at COP26 keep 1.5 alive, provide the money pledged to countries on the frontline of the crisis and consign fossil fuels to history.
COP26 is over - but our work to tackle the climate crisis isn't
The COP might have drawn to a close, but we know that the work to care for our common home goes on. There’s still so much to do.
And we need you to be part of that work. So please sign up to hear about the next steps in our campaigning to care for our common home.
In the run-up to COP26, all eyes were on world leaders. But now our focus is on people who are on the frontline of the crisis: those who work to defend our common home and face growing threats every day.
Thank you once again for adding your voice to Pope Francis’s call and calling for climate justice.
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