Bishop: let’s get off of fossil fuels. In order to fight climate change, we need to unite in action that is collective, global, and shared, involving all strata of society all around the world.

October 4, 2017

By Don João Mamede Filho on

Laudato Si’, considered by environmentalists all around the world as the “Green Encyclical, has become a work read by Christians and non-Christians alike in all corners of the world. In it, Pope Francis calls on us all to take care of our “Common Home” and all that exists in it.

In his call, the Pope reaffirms that the planet is a common good that must be preserved and guarded. Therefore, it is our duty to refrain from any human activity that may degrade, pollute or pose any kind of threat or risk to our planet and those who inhabit it.  

‘Laudato Si’ also presents a strong and persisting plea for a shift towards a new energy and development model, leaving fossil fuels behind.  These energy sources are responsible for the highest emissions of greenhouse gases; they pollute, render climate changes more intense, bring on diseases, and kill.

“It is our duty to refrain from any human activity that may degrade, pollute or pose any kind of threat or risk to our planet and those who inhabit it.”

It is important to remember that, at the beginning of Creation, an organic relationship between all living beings was established. All that exists is connected and coexists in a sustainable and wholesome manner. However, by choosing dirty energy sources such as fossil fuels, which leave trails of destruction behind them, we disconnect ourselves from our surroundings and ignore the harm they may cause us and to our fellow creatures. 

We could be asking ourselves: “When did we lose this universal communion connecting all life forms?” But I believe the question which we should find an answer to now is: “What can we do?” Or rather: “What must we do to recover this integral communion that is currently lost?” 

Laudato Si’ points out an alternative when affirming, in paragraphs 13 and 14, that renewable energies would pave the way for a sustainable, integral development, and enable us preserve the earth’s equilibrium. He also states that all of us can collaborate, by each using our own experiences, cultures, initiatives, and abilities.

Today’s world calls for new attitudes, new ways of life – more responsible, aware, and egalitarian. We need more communion and more dialogue. By affecting us regardless of political, territorial, racial, ethnic and religious boundaries, climate change unites the world through shared suffering. In order to fight it, we need to keep united and to transform this union into an action that is collective, global, and shared, involving all strata of society all around the world. 

A few months ago, a group of renowned scientists sounded the alert that, if greenhouse gases emissions do not start declining by 2020, it might be too late for humanity to meet the climatic goals set in the Paris Agreement, which seek to limit the increase in global temperature to less than 2ºC compared to pre-industrial levels.  This signifies we have only three years before it is too late to save the planet from the most dire effects of global warming, which would prove even more severe than the ones we have been experiencing lately. If we do not act, unpredictable climate changes may cause devastating impacts such as rising sea levels, which would ruin crops all around the world and have disastrous consequences for the most populated regions of the globe, such as coastal regions.

Initiatives seeking to free society from the indoctrination of consumer culture and of profit “at all costs”, which have been severely affecting our Common Home, are indispensable.

The economic model based on the intensive use of coal, oil, and gas that, which is in the center of the global energy system, threatens the very survival of our planet and its populations. 

By seeking to change that today—October 4th, 2016, St. Francis of Assisi’s Day—the Diocese of Umuarama, in the Brazilian State of Paraná, became the first episcopacy diocese and the first Latin American institution to join the global campaign to divest from fossil fuels.  This has been the biggest collective announcement made by the religious community so far. Today, a year later, more than 20 institutions in four countries have joined the call to divest. This illustrates the strength of our movement, which has already divested more than US$ 5,2 trillion from investments in fossil fuels all around the world.

Through peaceful and conscious mobilizations, we have gone down the path of fighting the exploitative practices that threaten life and the common good. We promote a low-carbon agenda that allows us to create an awareness of a new energy economy based on clean, just and free sources, that are available to everyone.

On this October 4th, 2017, I beg the patron of ecology and ecologists, who is also my patron, to intercede for us, so we can keep strong in this arduous path toward eternity. “Praised be the Lord.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Don João Mamede Filho is the Bishop of the Diocesis of Umuarama, a member of the Workgroup of Church and Mining of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB), and a partner of and of COESUS – No Fracking Coalition for the Climate, Water and Life – in the campaign against fracking and against fossil fuels in Latin America.