COP 21 Climate Summit

Everyone has been talking about the COP 21 climate negotiations, which will be taking place in Paris from November 30 – December 11. Here’s a brief overview of what it’s all about, why it’s so important, how the Church is responding and how you can get involved.

What is happening?

At the end of November, the governments of more than 190 nations will gather in Paris to try and reach a new global agreement on climate change. The gathering is called COP21 (the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). This is a critical conference, as it must achieve a new international agreement on the climate, with all countries agreeing to keep global warming below 2°C. This will happen through dialogue on emissions reductions and other measures required to combat climate change and global warming.

Why is it so important?

The decisions made at COP 21 could very well determine the future of the planet.

Current commitments on greenhouse gas emissions will run out in 2020. Without a united global agreement to keep temperature rise below 2°C, global emissions growth will continue. In fact, the recent IPCC report says that if global emissions continue to grow at the same level, global temperature will rise between 3.7 to 4.8 °C above preindustrial levels by 2100. This would be catastrophic for human society and for all life on our planet.

What is the Church doing in the lead up to COP 21?

The Catholic Church publicly recognises there is a need to take immediate action on climate change.  As Pope Francis said in Laudato si’: “Climate change is a global problem with serious implications, environmental, social, economic, political, and for the distribution of goods; it represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

In August, the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) issued a Statement to the COP 21 in Paris. It implores “those gathered in Paris to work assiduously to reach binding outcomes that will enhance the care and protection of our planet as the home of the citizens of the world.

In late October, Cardinals, Patriarchs and Bishops from across the globe representing the continental groupings of national episcopal conferences also released an Appeal to Cop 21 Negotiating Parties. It calls for “a major break-through in Paris, for a comprehensive and transformational agreement supported by all”.

Cardinal Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, also spoke out publicly last month, saying: “A successful COP21 will require the organized efforts of citizens who apply the Pope’s message in the halls of power and demand that leaders act courageously on behalf of the poor and the planet. This is what, on 29 November, millions of men, women and children in the streets of Paris, London, Berlin, São Paulo and 3 000 other cities will be marching for.”

Other faiths have also joined this call for action at COP 21, including the Islamic and Buddhist communities.

What is Catholic Earthcare doing in the lead up to COP 21?

  • Catholic Earthcare is encouraging our Australian leaders to commit to strong and binding global targets in Paris. We must drastically cut carbon emissions to keep the global temperature rise below the threshold of 1.5°C and to aid the world’s poorest in coping with climate change impacts.
  • Philippa Rowland, Catholic Earthcare Australia’s Regional Leader in SA/NT and member of the Multifaith Association of SA, will be a community delegate at the Paris Climate Summit. Philippa attended the Copenhagen talks in 2009 and is passionate about community solutions to climate change and a transition to a low carbon future. We will share updates from Philippa through our social media and on our website.
  • On the eve of climate talks in Paris we will gather in capital cities across Australia and join millions of others around the world for the People’s Climate March. By marching together we will show that we want an end to fossil fuels and a planned transition to 100% renewable energy. We will march because we must protect creation for the vulnerable and for future generations. And of course we will march for peace, for our planet and for a stable climate for all life on Earth.
  • As one of the founding members of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, and we continue to be involved in advocacy at an international level. We are gathering signatures asking negotiators at the climate summit to agree to drastically cut carbon emissions. Recently a number of Australian Bishops signed the petition. We also presented the Australian signatures to Julie Bishop, the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

 What can you do?

Make your voice heard in the lead up to climate talks




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