Climate change

Catholics denounce “depressing and indefensible” COP climate summit results

Catholics have denounced the “depressing and indefensible” results of the COP25 climate summit in Madrid.

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“We all arrived here with such hope and energy, encouraged by the great youth mobilization in recent months, but found everyone was just negotiating for their own interests”, Chiara Martinelli, senior adviser to CIDSE, told CNS from the Spanish capital.

“It’s not encouraging to see the obstacles presented by big players such as the U.S., China, Australia and Japan”, added the staffer at the Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité (“International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity”), an umbrella group of Catholic development agencies from Europe and North America.

Those obstacles put up by the “big players” meant that the over 25,000 COP delegates from 200 countries failed to finalise the ‘rulebook’ of the Paris Agreement on cutting emissions, including on transparency, timeframes, carbon credits trading rules and solidarity with poorer nations.

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“It’s disappointing there’s still a huge gap between what people on the streets are demanding and how governments are acting”, added Martinelli, referring to the groundswell of popular support for climate action.

“Our work has now re-started to maintain pressure and raise ambitions before the next summit [COP26, Glasgow 2020]. People in the streets are already mobilized, and we need the institutional Church to help push governments into making the right policy choices”, the CIDSE adviser said.

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For his part Neil Thorns, director for advocacy and education at CAFOD, the London-based, England and Wales bishops-backed Catholic Agency For Overseas Development, said it was “depressing and indefensible” that the COP delegates “got lost in technical details” and punted key climate decisions to Glasgow 2020.

“As Catholics, we have to ensure the poorest and most vulnerable are always at the heart of the discussions,” Thorns recalled.

“But while some countries act very positively, seeking alliances for the common good, others behave like saints in the plenaries when setting out their long-term goals, but quickly lose their halos when it comes to concrete action. […]

“We can’t separate the climate crisis from worldwide poverty and inequality”, Thorns continued.

“The Pope has shown how everything is interconnected — the cry of the earth and cry of the poor have the same causes, and 2020 will be a key year for putting across this message of integral ecology”.

Why it matters

The Spanish Catholic Church, too, expressed its disappointment with the results – or lack of them – of the summit in the capital at a launch December 16 of a book on Pope Francis’ thought on care for the environment.

“This message [of the Pope’s] is urgent and especially coinciding with the COP25 whose result has been a great disappointment for not having achieved the expected progress”, lamented emeritus Barcelona archbishop Cardinal Lluis Martínez Sistach.

“It’s true that the summit has ended in failure but the awareness of society is very important”, said for his part former Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti, adding that it is young people who are taking the “lead” of the care for Creation.

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Even Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano lamented the failure of the COP25 summit, deploring in an editorial that the meet simply “did not respond to expectations”.

“The nearly 200 participating countries pointed out the ‘urgent need’ to act against global warming, but without reaching a substantial agreement”, L’Osservatore denounced.

“This [need to act] was also the desire of Pope Francis who, in a message, had written to the participants without hiding his regret at the insufficient political will to continue increasing attention and sensitivity about the need to transform the current development model”, the paper decried.

For the record

December 17 CIDSE released a powerful statement on the summit, the talks at which, the group denounced, “followed the dominance of capital; blocking ambition and commitments on climate finance”.

“It is time for the richer nations to put their money where their mouth is and help the poorest adapt to climate change, while addressing present and future loss and damage, and promote agriculture that helps all to live gently on the earth”, CIDSE said.

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