Caritas and climate change FAQs

Why does Caritas focus on climate?

The world’s poorest people are being hit hardest by climate extremes. Typhoons and floods destroy entire communities, damaging homes and property. Drought, erratic rainfall, or unpredictable growing seasons lead to smaller harvests, or no harvests at all–leaving millions hungry.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) projects that climate change is expected to significantly increase and intensify extreme climatic events, putting the most vulnerable people at even greater risk.

What is climate change, and what do we mean by sustainable energy?

Climate change refers to changes in the global climate beyond those which we would expect to see due to natural climate variations. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines climate change as a ‘change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.’

Sustainable energy is energy that does not harm the climate or local environment and does not prevent future generations from meeting their energy needs – such as solar and wind energy. Sustainable energy should also be affordable, safe, and reliable for all.

What is Caritas asking for?

Caritas calls on governments to provides the means and policies to protect the most vulnerable people from dangerous climate extremes. Caritas urges governments to support the transition from polluting fossil fuels to sustainable energy.

Caritas also invites all people of good will to take action and live in a way that does not increase climate problems for the world’s poor. By doing this we’re showing politicians how much we care–and that we expect them to tackle the causes of climate change and support climate change solutions.

Photo by Caritas Peru

Photo by Caritas Peru

What causes climate change? Why does energy matter?

Human activity contributes significantly to climate change. The global energy system – power and transport – is a major contributor.

Energy emissions are set to double by 2030 if our current demand for energy continues as demand for countries that are industrialising rises too.

What needs to be done?

To achieve the emissions cuts required to tackle climate change, we have to urgently shift away from using polluting fossil fuels to more sustainable sources of energy, such as wind, solar, water and geothermal, along with making our use of all energy more efficient.

In addition, our current energy system is not delivering for everyone. Investing in sustainable energy is vital not just to tackle climate change, but is so everyone can light their homes, schools and hospitals, and so they can produce food and run businesses.

Climate change is a long-term problem that needs long-term solutions. We need leaders who can put the needs of our vulnerable sisters and brothers – those suffering most from the changing climate – at the heart of any decisions made.


Photo by CAFOD

What are the links with our faith?

The Earth is a gift from God and its future is intimately bound up with our own lives and choices. Climate change not only threatens the natural world, but also our lives and livelihoods and those of our global neighbours, especially the world’s poorest communities.

Our faith calls us to live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with people who are poor. So doing our share to tackle climate change is a fundamental part of expressing our faith.

How can I make a difference?

Although each change we make might seem small in itself, together it all adds up. It’s a sign that we want a much bigger change, and our actions can encourage others to get involved. By committing to live more sustainably ourselves we can demonstrate our support for people living in poverty, living with climate extremes and those expected to be significantly adversely impacted by climate change.

Will cutting our emissions make any difference?

It’s true that no single country’s emission reductions will make a difference on its own. Only if every nation agrees to limit polluting greenhouse gases emissions will we achieve the cuts we need on a global scale.

However, developing countries are responsible for a large share of man-made carbon dioxide emissions. Reducing these emissions is a vitally important task.

Adapted from Carbon Neutral via CAFOD.


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