CATHOLIC LEADERS IN G20 COUNTRIES are calling for fossil fuels be consigned to history, as key negotiations begin ahead of next month’s COP26 Climate Change Summit in Glasgow.

A group of Cardinals, Archbishops and heads of religious congregations have released an urgent plea to world leaders gathering for the G20 summit to end the use of fossil fuels for good. The call follows on from Pope Francis’ joint statement with faith leaders on 4 October calling for urgent action to protect “Our Common Home” and fight the climate crisis through systematic behavioural change and radical action.

In the statement the 78 Catholic leaders, including the Archbishop of Luxembourg, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich and Anne Walker, National Executive Director, Catholic Religious Australia said: “The voices from the communities we work with are ringing out. Climate change is a present reality that is affecting our brothers and sisters around the world, particularly those in poor and climate-vulnerable communities who have contributed to this issue the least.”

“We see increasingly severe and frequent droughts and floods, loss of crops, and destruction of land. We cannot and must not be quiet in the face of such suffering and injustice.”

Albert Mashika of Caritas Africa, the continent’s Catholic network, said: “ We welcome the call by Catholic Leaders in G20 countries to end support of fossil fuels by their respective countries so we can limit global temperature rise to 1.5C. That 1.5C limit is a lifeline to millions of people in Africa, whose livelihoods and families are already at risk of the effects of climate change. However, in Africa, where we are seeing a rise in temperature twice the current global level, currently around 2C, we know every fraction of a degree counts.

“That’s why ending support of fossil fuels at home and overseas cannot come soon enough. Across Africa we are already struggling to cope with the effects of climate change, alongside long-term issues that already grip the continent such as poverty and compounding problems like Covid-19.”

The Catholic leaders have called on their governments to use the G20 meetings in October to consign fossil fuels to history by:

  • Stopping any new developments of coal, oil and gas within our own countries.
  • Immediately ending all funding of fossil fuels abroad  – including coal, oil and gas..
  • Massively scaling up investments in clean and safe forms of energy such as wind and solar power, that  prioritise energy access for the poorest communities.
  • Making good on promises to provide climate finance to support communities already affected by the impacts of  climate change.

The statement continued: “Our moral duty is unquestionable. Advanced economies must act first to tackle climate change and must act quickly to protect current and future generations and our common home.

“We must face our historic responsibility and act with justice, standing in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in our own countries and around the world. We need to act now. We do not have the luxury of time on our side.”

The church is on the frontline of the climate crisis across the world, supporting communities already suffering from the devastating impacts of climate change.

In the Sahel region and parts of countries like Kenya, Caritas Africa has witnessed recurrent and prolonged drought which has led to continuous hunger crises and water shortages. Unpredictable and heavy rainfall has led to landslides and flash flooding in countries like Zambia and Mozambique – displacing hundreds of people and irreversibly changing local ecosystems and ways of life. Climate change is also a driving factor of conflict between those whose livelihoods and homes have been lost.

Albert Mashika added: “Africa is a continent of problem solvers and imagination, we are developing innovative solutions to build climate resilience.”

“However, one of the simplest ways to adapt is to limit the scale of the challenge – the big polluters, the G20 countries – need to heed this call and end their addiction to fossil fuels immediately. Not just for Africa, but for all citizens of our common home.”

The Catholic leaders are echoing calls from Pope Francis, who in 2019 said: “Investments in fossil fuels continue to rise, even though scientists tell us that fossil fuels should remain underground…We continue along old paths because we are trapped by our faulty accounting and by the corruption of vested interests. We still reckon as profit what threatens our very survival.”

* Source: CAFOD