Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Catholic Church Leaders Issue Appeal on Climate Change

By ELISABETTA POVOLEDO at the New York Times: 

Roman Catholic cardinals, patriarchs and bishops from around the world on Monday appealed to climate-change negotiators to approve a “fair, legally binding and truly transformational climate agreement” when they meet at a widely anticipated United Nations conference in Paris next month.

Representatives of the church from five continents signed the appeal in Vatican City. They said it was inspired by Pope Francis’ sweeping encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si,” issued in June, which forcefully calls for action to stem environmental destruction and climate change.

The prelates’ appeal calls for a “major breakthrough in Paris” that puts “the common good ahead of national interests,” and advances a 10-point policy proposal “drawing on the concrete experience of people across the continents, and linking climate change to social injustice and the social exclusion of the poorest and most vulnerable of our citizens,” they wrote.

The proposal includes putting “an end to the fossil fuel era,” phasing out emissions by mid-century and providing “affordable, reliable and safe renewable energy access for all.” It also calls for the development of “new models of development and lifestyle.”

Governments must also set limits to global temperature increases, the appeal stated. Decisions made in Paris must be legally binding, the prelates said.

“It’s not a wish or a recommendation but something that is going to tie the hands of governments, we hope,” Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, India, said at a news conference Monday.
The church has a duty, he said, to bring “ethical considerations” to the forefront of the climate talks in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

The appeal, Cardinal Gracias said, was a “historic occasion” and the first time that Catholic leaders representing all regional and national bishops conferences had presented a joint appeal.

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