Catholic Climate Petition Frequently Asked Questions

August 13, 2015

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What is the goal of the Catholic Climate Petition?

In late November 2015, world leaders will meet in the U.N. Climate Summit at Paris with the goal of signing a treaty to tackle climate change. Through this petition we urge our political leaders to commit to ambitious climate action and solve this urgent crisis.  Petition signatures will be delivered to world leaders at the summit, together with the petitions of other interfaith and secular organizations. Ultimately, we aim to raise a strong Catholic voice supporting Pope Francis’ words: “On climate change, there is a clear, definitive and ineluctable ethical imperative to act.”

Who has endorsed the petition?

Pope Francis endorsed the petition in May when he met with members of the Global Catholic Climate Movement in the Vatican. Cardinal Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, endorsed the petition in Bolivia in July. Cardinal Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis, recently signed the petition as part of a country-wide launch to gather 10 million signatures in the Philippines. A full list of major endorsers of the petition can be found here.

What is climate change?

Climate change refers to changes in the global climate beyond those which we would expect to see due to natural climate variations. It is caused by carbon and other trace greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines climate change as a “change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.”

Is climate change real?

The level of agreement by informed scientists is exceedingly high.  More than 99.9% of scientists published since 2013 agree that human activity is causing climate change. There is  consensus among scientists that the climate is being changed by human activity, in the same way as there is consensus on the links between smoking and lung cancer.

Why should I care about climate change?

The impacts of climate disruption are here and now, evident in extreme weather events such as floods, extreme storms, heat waves, and droughts. These impacts are projected to get a lot worse for everyone, especially those who are the most vulnerable, not least the poor, the unborn and future generations.  As Catholics and Christians, we are called to care for our brothers and sisters and all of creation.  Popes and Catholic Social Teaching are clear on our obligation to name systemic problems and damage such as climate change and address systemic injustice  when it is needed.

Why are you asking for 1.5 degrees?

Bishops from all continents and now the Pope have issued letters and signed onto statements calling for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels.  In the past year, scientists have said limiting increases to 2 degrees celsius is “utterly inadequate” for protecting those at most risk, given the already observed impacts on ecosystems, food, livelihoods, and sustainable development. Further, the World Health Organization stressed that there is no “safe” level of warming and that current impacts and risks from climate change are already reaching unacceptable levels, with significant and inequitable health impacts on breathing, clean water, heat, flooding, and displacement.

Can this petition really make a difference?

With the Holy Spirit, yes! Our leaders will not act unless we send a clear signal that we want immediate action on climate change to safeguard our common home and the future of our children.   At the same time, the Pope has stated the need for “ecological conversion” by all, and a total structural change.  People will be converted one at a time, through personal testimony and witness.  It is all of our responsibility.

What else can I do about climate change?

In Laudato Si’ the Holy Father says we must get off fossil fuels “without delay.”  Burning large amounts of fossil fuels — coal, oil, natural gas – is the biggest cause of global warming.  Each of us is responsible for helping bring the call for “ecological conversion” to our families, parishes, communities, and societies.  Talk with your priest, your parish, friends and family about climate change.  Encourage them to pray with you, to sign the petition, and think together about ways to bring about the systemic change the Pope calls for.  The Global Catholic Climate Movement had compiled resources for action at all levels here.

Who is behind the Catholic Climate Petition?

The Global Catholic Climate Movement is promoting the Catholic Climate Petition in collaboration with our larger network of 150 plus Catholic organizational partners and the thousands of individuals who feel called by their faith to respond to and raise awareness about human-induced climate change.