Seeking a global ethic: Introduction
As a confederation of Catholic organisations representing both the richest and the poorest countries on Earth, Caritas Internationalis embodies the solidarity the world needs if it is to find sustainable solutions to the effects of climate change.
Ethiopians battle their tough climate to grow food.
Caritas has a particular strength and opportunity to develop clear moral arguments, based on the Bible and Catholic Social Teaching, in order to drive political and social action that will transcend narrow personal and national interests in favour of the common good.
Catholic Social Teaching reminds us of our shared duty to respect the common good rather than using the Earth’s natural resources simply as we wish. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church emphasises the sacred gift that we have received through God’s creation and our “human responsibility for the preservation of a sound and healthy environment for all.” It also insists that “serious ecological problems call for an effective change of mentality leading to the adoption of new lifestyles.”1
This report seeks to raise awareness of our individual responsibilities as members of a common humanity, and sets out the key policies on which Caritas is campaigning at international, regional and national levels.
Caritas urges governments to support and implement a post- 2012 global climate change agreement that will keep global mean surface temperatures as far as possible below a 2°C increase on pre-industrial levels.
In recognition of their ecological debt to the international community, industrialised nations should take the lead in making absolute reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of more than 40 percent (based on 1990 levels) by 2020. This target should be reviewed as the emerging science indicates.
Developed countries must provide sufficient levels of secure financial and technological support for developing countries to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. More broadly, it is also essential that the sustainable development of the people in developing countries is recognised and addressed.
In order to provide immediate and effective advice regarding the human rights implications of actions designed to address climate change, the UN human rights mechanisms must fully participate in the processes of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The environment is a shared good that transcends national borders. Caritas therefore urges states to adopt regional approaches to addressing the causes and consequences of climate change, including the promotion of dialogue and cooperation between neighbouring countries in the management of natural resources.
Caritas appeals to governments to develop and enforce national policy frameworks that facilitate the identification and implementation of climate solutions at the levels of local governments, businesses, civil societies and families.
Caritas Internationalis also asks its own members to help in safeguarding the integrity of creation for future generations through a strategic focus on environmental sustainability and by reducing the carbon footprint of their respective organisations.
RESOURCESAnnual reportHow Caritas works: Climate Change Guide on Environmental JusticeClimate change on Caritas BlogClimate justice newsletter vol. 6