Catholic leaders call for action on climate change ahead of international summits

By Sebastian Salaske-Lentern, 16 October 2021
Image: Shutterstock.


Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, Br Peter Carroll FMS, President of Catholic Religious Australia (CRA), and 15 other leaders of Australian religious orders and congregations have joined Catholic leaders from around the world in signing a statement to the G20 leaders for their current meetings ahead of next month’s COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

The Catholic leaders are demanding the consignment of fossil fuels to history as key negotiations among the 20 most powerful countries begin.

The statement brings attention to the Catholic voice for the impacts of climate change on the world’s poorest communities, who are most vulnerable to these impacts, yet contribute to this issue the least.

The statement reiterates that the “science is clear”, and “the world needs to keep fossil fuels in the ground if we are limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees temperature rise by the end of 2030.”

The Catholic leaders call for the ceasing of developing and funding fossil fuels, significantly increasing investments in clean and safe renewables, including for the poorest communities, and ensuring financial support for communities already impacted by climate change.

In Australia, the statement with its signatures from all continents was delivered to the Australian G20 emissary Simon Duggan, who represents the Australian Federal Government in the G20 talks and negotiations. You can read the full statement here.

In September, Bishop Vincent Long, who is also Chair of the Australian Catholic Bishop’s Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service, spoke out for climate action and the end of fossil fuels at a webinar on the impacts of climate change on Pacific communities.

RELATED: Church leaders call for justice on climate change in the Pacific

“We cannot go on living the way we have. We cannot continue to burn fossil fuels without dire consequences,” he said at ‘COP26, Climate & the Pacific – A Call to Action’ organised by the Edmund Rice Centre in September this year.

“Scientists predicted long ago that extreme weather events would happen if carbon emissions were not reduced. These predictions have come to pass with devastating effects such as the bushfires that ravaged eastern Australia less than 2 years ago.”

Br Peter Carroll FMS, the President of Catholic Religious Australia, and Anne Walker, their National Executive Director, have written a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, urging him to attend the COP26 summit in November, to make a commitment to an expediated, just transition towards achieving net zero emissions of greenhouse gases.

“Australia’s major trading partners and strategic allies, including the United States and the United Kingdom, are rapidly shifting away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy, implementing strong emission reduction targets, and pledging support for climate action in developing countries. These actions greatly exceed Australia’s own, and Australia needs to act in greater global solidarity to do its fair share to avert the worsening climate crisis,” they wrote.

The Diocese of Parramatta calls for action

RELATED: Ahead of COP26: Diocese of Parramatta and St Patrick’s Cathedral call for bold climate action by 2030

On Sunday 17 October, the Diocese of Parramatta will join other faith organisations across Australia in another call to our political leaders ahead of the COP26 summit in Glasgow. Together with St Patrick’s Cathedral Parish, the Diocese will display a promotional banner on a perimeter fence, which is asking the Prime Minister for “Bold Climate Action by 2030 Starting Now”.

The Cathedral bells will be rung at 10am to draw people’s attention to the banner as part of a “Faiths 4 Climate Justice” Global Day of Action. Find out more about this action and the motivation behind it here.

Dr Sebastian Salaske-Lentern is Peace, Justice and Ecology Coordinator in the Diocese of Parramatta.

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