COP24: Columbans call for meaningful action on global warming

3rd December 2018 - by Ellen Teague

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The Columban General Council, on the opening of the United Nations’ COP24 hosted in Katowice, Poland, is urging governments to take meaningful action that ensures global warming will not exceed 1.5 Celsius, including a rapid and just transition to clean, renewable, and sustainable energy use by all.

In October 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a special report on global warming. The report lays out the challenges as well as paths for progress. We take seriously the scientific evidence presented in the report that says, “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared with 2°C would reduce challenging impacts on ecosystems, human health and well-being…” We seek to be part of a global systematic response by governments, businesses, faith communities, and individuals that reduces greenhouse emissions and transitions to a sustainable and fossil free energy system.

We applaud the 2018 climate justice statement released jointly by representatives of all the continental bishops’ conferences on the occasion of COP24. In particular, we join in their particular policy calls, grounded in principles of urgency, intergenerational justice, human dignity and rights:

• Keep temperature rise to below 1.5C;
• Transition to deep and durable lifestyle change;
• Listen to, protect, and preserve the wisdom of indigenous communities;
• Shift the financial paradigm to one that promotes justice, dignity, and equality;
• Transform the energy sector to fossil-free and;
• Transform the agriculture sector to agroecology that ensures human well-being and care for the earth

We note as well Pope Francis’ recognition in Laudato Si’ of the interconnectedness and intrinsic value of all Creation when he says, “each organism, as a creature of God, is good and admirable in itself…” (LS 140.)

Columbans worldwide see intimately the devastating impacts of climate change on people and the Earth and commit to the protection of biodiversity as integral to our missionary vocation of caring for all of God’s creation. We respond through collaborative ecumenical and interfaith grassroots prayer, education, and policy advocacy.

We continue to refine institutional investment by applying negative screens to industries that harm the environment such as fossil fuels. We join with others in our local dioceses and the Global Catholic Climate Movement and REPAM in responding to Pope Francis call to work for an integral ecology and human development.

We celebrate the courageous Climate Pilgrims who have walked 1500 kilometers from the Vatican to Katowice in their witness to the need for: an urgent transition to a just climate economy, increase in climate finance, and a global rulebook that holds countries accountable for their climate commitments.

We pray that COP24 will result in meaningful policy and action that brings the urgent change needed to set the world on a path to climate healing and justice for all.

Signed by:
Fr Timothy Mulroy
Superior General, Columban Missionaries
Hong Kong


COP24 Statement by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales