Climate change crisis

Ahead of UN summit, Amazon Synod cardinals warn governments inaction on climate a “crime”

A group of Amazon Synod cardinals has warned the world’s governments that inaction on climate change is a “crime” against humanity and nature.

Driving the news

In a text written during last month’s Synod in the Vatican, but released November 25, the cardinals expressed their “deep concerns” about the “poor” implementation to date of the Paris Agreement climate goals.

The appeal was published just a week out from COP25, the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Madrid December 2-13.

The text was signed by cardinals Fridolin Ambongo Besungu (Democratic Republic of Congo); Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno (Peru); Oswald Gracias (India); Jean-Claude Hollerich (Luxembourg); Cláudio Aury Affonso Hummes (Brazil); John Ribat (Papua New Guinea); Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga (Honduras), and by the president of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), Archbishop Héctor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte (Peru).

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“Current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) barely represent a third of the emissions reduction needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C and instead allow for over 3.5°C of warming”, the prelates warned in their appeal.

The cardinals and archbishop accused countries such as Brazil and India of “not negotiating in the spirit of the Paris Agreement”, and of continuing “to act in self- interest by opening loopholes under the Carbon Trading Rules, without accepting social and environmental safeguards”.

They added that they were “disappointed with the lack of honesty and transparency as governments keep reaffirming their commitment… while their policies speak to the contrary”.

“We are saddened that the most vulnerable communities and future generations will once again pay the price of our inaction, with very little funding to adapt, and still no mechanism on the horizon to compensate for losses and damages caused by climate change”, the prelates deplored.

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Why it matters

In their call, the prelates also decried that “the suffering of people and Creation in the Amazon region are the consequences of an imperial way of life”.

They added that the world’s “insatiable consumption and production… is now destroying our planet and threatening the lives of those who try to protect the earth”.

Warning that the Amazon rainforest is already turning into a savannah thanks to the alarming rate of tree cover loss, the prelates alerted that “if humankind fails to mitigate Climate Change, tipping points like the one in the Amazon may reach a point of no return”.

Such a disaster could “potentially send the Earth into a spiral of runaway climate change modifying the face of our common home”, the churchmen decried.

What’s next

“Time is running out. To reach net zero by 2050 worldwide, we only have a few years left to radically reduce our current CO2 emissions”, the Amazon Synod bishops warned the governments slated to meet at the COP25 summit in Madrid.

“Government, Business and Society have been delaying action for too long, while the vulnerable suffer and our planet literally burns before our eyes. They deserve an answer and response to their calls, as we only have one planet to live on”.

For the record

The cardinals concluded their call pleading with governments to alleviate poverty and guarantee human dignity for all by “recognising the interconnection between ourselves and nature, with nature being our source of life”.

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“Humankind already has a great historical debt toward the indigenous peoples and through our inaction, this debt is growing and touching upon hundreds of millions of people around the world who may lose their homes, cultures, and way of life due to the devastating effects of climate change”, the prelates warned.

Next on Novena:

Pope says environmental policies not enough to fight “narcissism and greed” behind ecological crisis

Cardinal Hollerich warns of “terrible disaster” without “radical” ecological conversion

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