18 May 2011
As an urgent problem affecting all CI Member Organisations worldwide, climate change has been a key advocacy priority throughout the past four years. In shaping its policy on climate justice, CI considered three key issues:
Caritas colleagues at an ecumenical service during climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009.
Caritas was represented at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) summit meetings in Poznan, Poland in 2008; in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009; and in Cancun, Mexico, in 2010.
Caritas has sought to involve members from developing nations in the climate change negotiations by facilitating their participation in the UNFCCC meetings. In a joint effort with CIDSE, Caritas organised a high-level delegation to coincide with the opening of the UN General Assembly in NewYork in September 2009. Delegates met with heads of state and urged their commitment to the UNFCCC process at the highest political levels. The Caritas-CIDSE delegation to NewYork included Bishops from North and South, southern partners and leadership from both networks.
They prayed at a Mass presided over by Caritas Africa President, Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga of Kampala. They joined a special ecumenical service with the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, at which the Catholic Church was represented by Caritas Mexico President Bishop Gustavo Rodríguez Vega. They joined 100,000 people to march through Copenhagen. Caritas took part in a symbolic ringing of bells in Copenhagen and around the world. The bells were rung 350 times to represent the safe level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In Europe, over 2,400 Catholic churches took part.
Caritas Europa President Fr Erny Gillen spoke at an event inside the conference centre on the role of faith. “What is key is not changing our ethics, but how to put life in them,”he said. “The Church has the power to motivate people.We see this with the global campaign Caritas has been taking part in.”
In the end, world leaders produced a weak deal. Caritas Bangladesh President Theotonius Gomes said at the end of the talks, “We have to take hope out of Copenhagen.We saw a huge mobilisation of people clamouring for justice. Those calls will grow. The momentum for change will become unstoppable”.
Caritas Mexico’s President, Bishop Gustavo Rodríguez Vega, spoke forcefully on behalf of faith-based organisations at the closing plenary session when he told government ministers: “Faith traditions, with their core spiritual values for the earth’s communities, can play a key role in overcoming the dominant economic model where overconsumption and greed prevail…Humankind is at present dancing on the edge of the abyss.We cannot afford another failure from the governments as in Copenhagen.”
A“Green Climate Fund”of $100 billion a year by 2020 for poor countries was agreed and the need for cuts in rising temperatures was recognised. Caritas felt that hope had been restored and a route set for the 2011 summit in Durban in South Africa.