Just a few weeks ago, Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) organizers delivered to world leaders nearly 1 million signatures of Catholics calling for bold climate action at the international climate talks outside Paris.
But that was just the beginning. Now we have to lift up Catholic voices in national capitals and mayoral offices around the globe to make sure that policy makers honor their commitments and step up their ambition.
As an official observer at the COP21 talks for Mercy International Association, I was moved by the strong pleas for climate action from vulnerable communities and young people who fear for their own future and the futures of their children and grandchildren.
Residents of small island nations demanded commitments to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees in order to preserve some chance that they can survive and thrive in their ancestral homes. Small-scale female farmers in African lamented changes in the growing season that are making life even harder for their families. Delegates from the poorest countries said they’d love to invest in renewable energy, but wondered where they could possibly find the resources.
These voices crying out for true climate justice committed me even more to calling on local, national and international leaders to, in the words of the GCCM petition, “drastically cut carbon emissions to keep the global temperature rise below the dangerous 1.5°C threshold, and to aid the world’s poorest in coping with climate change impacts.”
The commitments made outside Paris, when added together, only keep us on track to limit global warming to, at best, 2.7 degrees centigrade. And that isn’t nearly enough.
Over the next few months, GCCM will continue to promote the petition in parishes, schools, convents and any other places where Catholics worship, educate one another and minister. We’ll then deliver the petition signatures to officials in top-emitting countries and advocate for bold climate policies.
At the national level, we’ll call on countries to develop more ambitious climate action plans and reach full decarbonization by 2050. We’ll ask wealthier countries to step up their financing for climate mitigation and adaption for poorer countries; we’ll ask poorer nations to help communities that are certain to be impacted by climate change to adapt as best they can.
At the city level, we’ll encourage local partners to meet with city mayors and help push their countries toward full decarbonization by 2050. There is much that local communities can do, and we can share policy recommendations with city governments.
Please sign the petition here, and consider organizing a petition delivery to your mayor, state or provincial government, or national policy makers.
Petition campaigning: 1) continue promoting the petition in parishes (complementing Laudato Si promotion), and 2) deliver our petition signatures (900k) to political authorities in top emitting countries advocating for bold climate policies.
National level: target national governments by calling for more ambitious INDCs (climate action plans) and full decarbonization by 2050 (in Northern countries stress the climate finance ask, in Southern countries stress the adaptation ask); aim for interfaith meetings to deliver signatures (30 countries in 30 weeks) and/or Bishops Conference statement (leveraging COP21 Bishops’ Appeal).
City level (2017 priority): encourage local partners to meet with city mayors (ideally with local bishop) to deliver signatures and demand full decarbonization by 2050 (in Southern countries stress the adaptation ask). Complement with a document with policy recommendations for city governments (need partner to provide content).
Elections campaigns: arrange meetings with political candidates to deliver petition signatures (in countries with 2016 elections).