Catholic hierarchy and grassroots support 1.5°C goal

December 10, 2015

Paris, December 10 – Countries advocating for the 1.5 degrees Celsius target are gaining a lot of traction. Since 2009, the official target of the negotiations has been to keep temperature increase below 2 degrees, what would mean a death sentence for a huge amount of people in the poorest countries. With less than a one degree increase we are seeing devastating effects: historic flooding in India, destructive typhoons in the Philippines, unprecedented heat waves across the Middle East, etc.

During the last few months those vulnerable countries have called for an increase of ambition to enshrine a 1.5°C target and lots of civil society organizations have joined the call (including our GCCM movement, as stated in our Catholic Climate Petition). And now a huge amount of countries (114 of them) have supported the 1.5°C goal, including big ones as Germany, Canada or France. This was considered IMPOSSIBLE a few months ago.

And today was the turn of the Holy See to boost the momentum of the 1.5°C campaign, by announcing that it supports the inclusion of the 1.5°C target in the final Paris climate agreement. “We support option two [in article 2 of the Paris agreement],” said Monsignor Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio to the United Nations, referring to the section of the current negotiating text that calls to “rapidly scale up global efforts to limit temperature increase to below 1.5 °C.”

Cardinal Turkson, who is the President of the Pontifical Council Justice and Peace, added his support by posing for a picture with the 1.5 hands sign:

Our grassroots movement, GCCM, has been campaigning throughout 2015 for this same goal through the Catholic Climate Petition, which reads: “Inspired by Pope Francis and the Laudato Si’ encyclical, we call on you to 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.” Over 900,000 Catholics and over 300 Catholic organizations from all continents have signed and supported this call for a high level of ambition.

Tomás Insua, Global Coordinator of GCCM, stated: “The Catholic grassroots are very proud to have participated in the #1o5c movement since the birth of our campaign, and we celebrate that the Holy See supports this moral call for action. We are hopeful that even more countries will join the 114 parties that already formalized their endorsement, so that the Paris agreements lays out a high level of ambition for the years ahead. But we are also mindful that this target is meaningless unless developed countries do their fair share in terms of mitigation efforts and climate finance commitments, so we call on them to take advantage of this historic opportunity to start paying their ‘ecological debt’ towards poorer countries.”

The 900,000 Catholic signatures were delivered today to the French president, François Hollande, during an event in the Elysee Palace.

For more information about the 1.5°C goal: