A group of Catholic bishops have spoken out asking for a meaningful global climate treaty to be signed at the Paris climate talks later this year. They have urged members of their church to engage with the process. Some bishops have previously called for rapid decarbonisation and argued for moves to protect the most vulnerable from the effects of climate change but this is the first time that senior church figures from every continent have joined together to issue such a call.
The Catholic church has a significant potential to influence public debate with around 1.2 billion people worldwide identifying as Catholic. The bishops asked for extended discussions at the talks in Lima in December in order for concrete decisions to be made in Paris this year. In their statement they talk about how it is the poorest people who are impacted the most by climate change even though they’ve often contributed the least to causing it. The President of the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference said “As the church, we see and feel an obligation for us to protect creation and to challenge the misuse of nature.”
The bishops argue that nations should aim to keep the rise in global temperatures below 1.5 degrees C which goes further than the current position of many negotiators who say that 2 degrees represents the threshold for dangerous climate change.
As well as calling for the phasing in of 100% renewable energy, there is a strong focus on finance for adaptation in the statement. The Bishops say that solving the climate challenge with a new treaty will be a key step towards a new economic approach.
This comes amidst news that as of 2014 49% of Americans believe climate change to be a sign of the end times as described in the Bible. The survey carried out by the Public Religion Research Institute say this has increased from 44% in 2011 and the belief is more prevalent in some religious communities than others.
Sources: Grist online Nov 2014, BBC website Dec 2014