COP21- Bishops say don’t screw it up this time

“In Oceania, our survival and existence are at stake,” said Monsignor John Ribat, President of the Federation of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania and the Archbishop of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Ribat was taking part in an emotionally charged press conference in Rome on Monday.

Catholic leaders representing every continent on earth made an urgent appeal to the global negotiators and political officials who will gather in Paris in December for the United Nation’s 21st climate summit – COP21.

Their message: After two decades of abysmal failure, don’t screw up this time.

“What we are asking for is a fair, legally binding and truly transformational agreement by all the nations on earth.”

Speaking for Oceania Ribat said, “God gave us the same dignity as all other countries and continents in the world. But we belong to those groups most affected by climate change and sea-level rise.”

He explained that flooding and drought in some island nations is already reducing the ability to grow crops and forcing natives to flee.

This is resulting in a little publicised immigration crisis — far from the one occurring in Europe.

He noted, many people however are reluctant to abandon their sinking homelands, fearful of what awaits them as eco-refugees — discrimination, xenophobia and cultural isolation.

“This is my urgent call,” Ribat said to those who will negotiate in Paris: “Guarantee the future of Oceania. Change society to a low-carbon lifestyle.”

The heads of six continental bishops’ conferences, along with leaders of national conferences in the United States and Canada and of the Catholic patriarchs of the Orient, made the collective call to the negotiating parties who are set to arrive Nov. 30 in Paris for the annual United Nations climate change conference, formally known as the 21st Conference of the Parties, COP 21.

Each of the five speakers cited Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical on climate change and the environment — Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home — as inspiration for their unprecedented call to action.

Read the Press release from the Bishops.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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