Caritas joins faith community pilgrims to COP26

Caritas Internationalis

Global Catholic charity, Caritas, joined other Catholic agencies and faith community pilgrims heading to Glasgow this week.

Caritas NZ says the pilgrims are in Glasgow to pray and to press world leaders for strong action at COP26 – the 26th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Religious leaders representing Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist and Baha’i traditions are offering prayers and calls for concrete actions.

The 31 October to 12 November conference is the first requiring countries to honour their Paris accord commitment to submit new, more ambitious plans to environmentally-damaging emissions.

Caritas NZ says the global Catholic charity has three critical targets it wants to see COP26 progressing:

  • Strong emissions cuts to keep the 1.5C target alive
  • More climate finance that is targeted and more readily accessible to the most vulnerable communities, equally shared between mitigation (cutting emissions) and adaptation. Finance to address Loss and Damage already incurred by the poor must be stepped up, recognising the ecological debt owed by richer countries to poorer ones.
  • Tackling climate change in an integrated way, including protection and restoration of ecosystems and prioritising the needs of the poor in a just transition, in line with Laudato Si’.

During the conference, Caritas will hand over its “Healthy Planet, Healthy People” petition along with other messages from faith-filled activists and leaders from around the world.

Several hundred people gathered in the vicinity of the Scottish Events Centre when the conference opened, to pray for world leaders at the conference.

“We remind governments of their commitments made in Paris in 2015 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees,” says a multifaith declaration read at the event and signed by more than 50 religious leaders from Scotland and the United Kingdom.

Another multifaith statement asks “governments to swiftly and justly transition the global economy from fossil fuels toward renewables and compensate communities already affected by climate change.”

“Across our doctrinal and political differences, we know that we must change our ways to ensure a quality of life which all can share, and we need to provide hope for people of all ages, everywhere, including future generations. To offer hope in the world we need to have confidence that those in power understand the vital role they have to play at the Glasgow COP26.”

Scottish Catholic Bishop Brian McGee says the interfaith group is offering prayers for world leaders. It also expects to exert pressure on them to deliver on public demands for an urgent response to the climate crisis.

“Certainly that’s what a lot of people have been doing. That is contacting the politicians and explaining to them that this is really, really important and we have to do something here,” he says.

McGee says Catholic action at the climate summit shows love of God’s creation and those suffering the impacts of global warming.

Pope Francis’s “extraordinary leadership” in widening the ecological question beyond conservation has widened the way we look at creation and people suffering the impacts of global warming, McGee says.

“It’s about how we treat people. It’s about justice in all its forms.”


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