Bishops declaration urges COP24 Summit to take climate change action

The presidents of six bishops’ conferences on five continents have signed a joint declaration urging the upcoming COP24 Summit to take immediate action against climate change.

Addressed to world leaders going to the COP24 Summit this December in Poland, the declaration says they must take concrete steps “to tackle and overcome the devastating effects of the climate crisis.

“We must be prepared to make rapid and radical changes and resist the temptation to look for solutions to our current situation in short-term technological fixes without addressing the root causes and the long-term consequences.”

Martina Liebsch, Policy Director of Caritas Internationalis (which is promoting the declaration) says politicians must work on implementing the Paris Agreement to safeguard the planet and all its people.

She points to the International Panel on Climate Change’s recent “alarming” report which says we have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe.

“It warns that if we don’t make these efforts some parts of the world may be inhabitable in the very near future.

“It’s not something which is far away: it is something that is now.”

Liebsch says the declaration will highlight to leaders at the COP24 Summit “that we need to move forward because we see we have one earth, one common home, and we need to take care of it.”

The declaration also issues a broader call to the public, Liebsch says.

This is “to ensure that the faithful understand the urgency, understand the responsibility that we have for future generations as well, to care for our common home and try to make it possible that we keep the global warming temperature to 1.5 Degrees Celsius.”

One of the bishops who signed the declaration, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, says the church cannot rest until “the Paris agreement is fulfilled, adhered to and followed up.

“People who are affected most are the weakest,” he says.

“There is no doubt that this is something that is urgent, important, and it is our responsibility to throw our full weight on it.”

Another signatory, Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, says a contributing factor to the crisis was the flow of money into industries that contribute to climate change, especially fossil fuels.

“If you do not look to the sources of money and where the money flows we have a very nice way of speaking, but things will not really happen,” he says.

“And things have to happen because everything is interconnected, as Pope Francis says in Laudato Si’, and we are responsible for the people in Europe but also the people of other continents.”

Hollerich says a television programme showing how the European landscape would change due to rising sea levels and how new technologies and structures could prevent it from happening made him angry.

“It made me furious. Yes, we can do it, but other continents, other countries cannot,” he says.

“We are co-responsible for this earth, there is only one. We have to act now and I think the urgency of this call is very important.”


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