The U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington on March 31, 2022. (CNS/Reuters/Tom Brenner)
Representatives of Catholic organizations have called on parishioners to fight climate change through actions in their lives and advocacy with political leaders following a United Nations report which warned that the earth’s temperatures were continuing to rise. increase, putting human lives at risk.
Solutions can be as simple as planting trees, reducing electricity use at home and on parish property, driving less and walking more, representatives of groups working on climate-related issues said.
Additionally, they said it is becoming increasingly urgent for Catholics to strengthen engagement with members of Congress to urge them to adopt policies that will reduce the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels.
Reducing the use of oil and natural gas, the combustion of which scientists have determined produces greenhouse gases that drive global warming, is crucial to mitigating the effects of climate change, said Dan Misleh, founder of the Catholic Climate Covenant.
“There are many easy solutions. It’s just about raising awareness and encouraging action,” Misleh said.
Thousands of pages long, the report published on April 4 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints a dire picture of the consequences the world will face if carbon emissions are not reduced immediately.
He warned that global temperatures would rise this century beyond the 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) warmer targeted by the 2015 Paris climate accord if the current rate of fuel use fossils continues.
Scientists have measured temperatures that have already risen more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since pre-industrial times, leading to more devastating natural disasters such as floods, long-term drought, wildfires and more powerful hurricanes, and the displacement of millions of people from their homelands.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres told reporters on April 4 that the report demonstrates that governments and companies have delivered “a litany of broken climate promises” as they continue to prioritize fuels. fossil fuels for energy and ignore the objectives of the Paris agreement.
Acknowledging the concern raised by António Guterres, Misleh said everyone must “dramatically reduce emissions so that the future, especially for our children and grandchildren, is not as dire as we are heading towards”.
There’s no better time to start ending fossil fuel addiction than the season of Lent, said Susan Gunn, director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns.
“We can look to Lenten themes to give us the courage we need right now. Lent is a time to examine our temptations, confess our sins and be open to change,” Gunn told Catholic News Service. .
“As a community, all of us, oil and gas producers and oil and gas consumers, must embrace change,” she said.
A representative of the Laudato Si’ movement said world leaders “do not hear the cry of the poor” and called on believers to seek the strength of the Holy Spirit to act to protect the earth.
“Our effort is aimed at helping our Catholic community demand moral responses to climate change from our elected federal members of Congress.”
“The IPCC report doesn’t say what we don’t already know,” Lindlyn Moma, advocacy director for the organization, told CNS from South Africa on April 5. “It’s very clear that the human race is destroying our common home. It’s very clear that powerful world leaders are not acting to stop the current climate crisis we find ourselves in.”
The report says greenhouse gas emissions continued to grow from 2010 to 2019, but at a slower rate than in the first decade of the 21st century. The growth rate slowed from 2.1% per year to 1.3% per year, according to the report.
However, the report’s authors said that unless countries rapidly accelerate the pace of emissions reductions, the earth could on average see temperatures of 4.3 to 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit (2.4 to 3 .5 degrees Celsius) warmer by the end of the century, a level that will have serious effects. global.
To kick off Congressional leadership outreach, a coalition of Catholic organizations unveiled the Meeting for Our Common Home campaign.
The effort calls for widespread training and advocacy to prepare people to “meet and urge” senators during the week of May 2-6 to support climate solutions that particularly benefit poor and vulnerable communities most susceptible to change. climatic.
“Our effort is aimed at helping our Catholic community demand moral responses to climate change from our elected federal members of Congress,” Misleh said.
The focus on the Senate comes at a time when it is considering climate provisions in budget legislation. The messages will center on Catholic teaching and engage a cross-section of people of faith to encourage bipartisan support for climate legislation, the campaign website said.
“Our approach—both of faith and of reason—is ultimately grounded in our shared beliefs, seeking to get to the heart of our concern to live the gospel through the love of all creation, with the hope of manifest a change of heart for our leaders and the wider Catholic Church,” the website reads.
Those who register for godsplanet.us/advocacy will be able to participate in two webinars prior to online or in-person meetings with Senators or their staff.
Elsewhere, CIDSE, a network of 17 Catholic development agencies from Europe and North America, has called for “deep and urgent emissions cuts”.
In an April 4 statement, the organization said it was inspired by Pope Francis and his actions to fight climate change. CIDSE Secretary General Josianne Gauthier echoed Guterres, saying that “corporate power gets in the way of climate justice.”
“That means to really tackle climate change, we have to tackle our economic system,” Gauthier said. “As Pope Francis has said, we cannot live in an economy based on insatiable and irresponsible growth. We are motivated to challenge the system based on the direct experiences of people at the forefront of the climate change, which urgently need mitigation.”