2015 Highlights – 1 Million Catholics for Climate Justice

January 28, 2016

2015 was a historic year for the climate movement in general to accelerate the clean energy revolution and advance the cause for climate justice. Two once-in-a-lifetime events set the stage for our mobilization: in June Pope Francis released his groundbreaking eco-encyclical, Laudato Si, followed by the critical Paris Climate Summit which resulted in a transformative agreement. These are our favorite highlights from the 2015 mobilization:
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1. Over 900,000 of us called for climate justice

Our Catholic Climate Petition was signed by 900,000 Catholics, led in the ground by our global network of 300 member organizations (with the Philippines leading the charge).

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 9.32.09 PMSee more petition action pictures.
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2. The highest political authorities of COP21 heard our demand

We delivered the 900,000 signatures to the highest political authorities of the historic Paris Climate Summit (COP21), together with an interfaith climate coalition (collectively we delivered 1.8 million signatures). First, we met François Hollande, the French president who hosted COP21:

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President Hollande holds the box symbolizing the 1.8 million signatures, together with the interfaith delegation. See more pictures here.

Tomás Insua, Global Coordinator of GCCM, greets President Hollande. Credit: Sean Hawkey/WCC.

Tomás Insua, Global Coordinator of GCCM, greets President Hollande.

Then we delivered the petition signatures to Christiana Figueres, the U.N. climate chief in charge of the whole climate negotiations process:

France's special envoy for the protection of the planet Nicolás Hulot (left) applauds as Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of South Africa presents Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, with some 1.8 million signatures on an interfaith petition for climate justice during the COP21 climate summit in Paris, France, November 28, 2015.Read more about the meeting with Christiana Figueres,

With this we contributed to an important victory: the inclusion of the bold goal to keep global temperature increase below 1.5°C (instead of the less ambitious 2°C goal that big polluter countries supported). Our Catholic movement had an important role, as our petition was the only one explicitly calling for the 1.5°C goal and even the Vatican supported the goal.
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3. We played a key role in the 1.5°C victory at COP21

The 1.5 degrees Celsius target in the Paris Agreement was a huge diplomatic victory as it dramatically raised the level of ambition, and our movement played a key role in advancing this cause as the Catholic Climate Petition was the only petition explicitly calling for this goal. The Philippine delegation at COP21, which presided the CVF negotiation block of 43 countries and spearheaded the 1.5°C negotiation effort, acknowledged‎ that “The GCCM petition played a very critical role in the campaign to raise the ambition in Paris”.

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 9.32.58 AMRead more about our role in the 1.5C victory.
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4. Over 40,000 of us joined the historic Global Climate March

The recent Global Climate March of November 29 (the day before COP21) was the largest climate mobilization in history. Our movement helped mobilize over 40,000 Catholics to join the massive crowds of 800,000 people in 2,300 rallies in 175 countries.

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 1.09.32 AMRead more about Catholics in the Global Climate March.
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5. Pope Francis endorsed GCCM and made a powerful call to action

It started in May, when Pope Francis met GCCM and endorsed our campaign, inviting us to increase our efforts to raise awareness among our Catholic family about the moral implications of the climate crisis.

2-GCCM-petition-presentation-to-Pope-Francis-1Read more about the Pope’s endorsement to GCCM.

A month later, on June 18, the Holy Father released the groundbreaking encyclical Laudato Si, the first one ever to be devoted entirely to the ecological issue. It issued a powerful message on our moral responsibility to “hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” that will guide the Church for generations to come.

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A month after that, on July 10, Pope Francis delivered a powerful speech in Bolivia with a dramatic call to action to defend our common home:

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6. Bishops and Cardinals from all continents supported our mobilization

We were fortunate to count with the endorsement of many Bishops and Cardinals from all continents, who also issued the remarkable COP21 Bishops’ Appeal which urged to “put an end to the fossil fuel era” and “set a goal for complete decarbonization by 2050”.

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7. Our petition signatures traveled from the Vatican to Rome… by foot!

Last but not least, the People’s Pilgrimage, led by Yeb Saño (former climate negotiator of the Philippines), walked over 1500km across Europe from the Vatican to Paris to call for climate justice. Along the way, they symbolically carried our Catholic Climate Petition signatures and a Laudato Si manuscript.

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1. Yeb in Rome with the GCCM petition t-shirt; 2. Yeb in Galliate (Italy) with 214,000 signatures; 3. Yeb near Lyon (France) with 535,000 signatures; 4. Yeb in Paris delivering 900,000 GCCM signatures to President Hollande.

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For more details about our campaign, you can also enjoy a pictorial timeline of our first year’s milestones:

See timeline

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