For Africans, the climate change crisis is a lived reality, says Cardinal Ambongo.
Paul Samasumo – Vatican City.
Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, the Archbishop of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who is also the First Vice President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), has spoken out strongly about the climate change crisis and how it is impacting the African continent in devastating ways.
Climate justice for Africa
Cardinal Ambongo said SECAM, various religious leaders, faith-based organisations and civil society want climate justice for the continent.
“The climate crisis is a lived reality for people across Africa. Recent summer heatwaves in the north of the continent have caused massive social and economic losses and damages, breaking temperature records and severely disrupting agri-food systems in an already hungry region. Storms and cyclones early in the year caused devastation in Southern Africa, resulting in the destruction of homes and the loss of lives. Eastern Africa is facing the worst food crisis in a generation, precipitated by extreme drought. In West Africa, cities are flooded, communities in the creeks are submerged, conflicts which have simmered for years are now intensifying due to climate-induced displacement. Wherever you look on this continent, a continent already struggling due to an unjust global economic system, you see climate change holding back the potential for development,” said the Cardinal.
Cardinal Ambongo made the remarks in a communiqué of 17 October to mark the culmination of conversations dubbed African Climate Dialogues.
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Dubbed African Climate Dialogues, the conversations referenced by Cardinal Ambongo were hosted by Catholic Church-based organisations, personalities and civil society partly as a way of preparing for COP27.
COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, is the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference to be held between 6 and 18 November 2022. The conference is expected to bring out various critical aspects of needed action to tackle the climate change crisis.
The word ‘COP’ stands for Conference of the Parties.
COP is the supreme decision-making forum of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It brings to the same table signatory governments once a year for them to discuss how to address climate change and its impacts.
Government representatives, world leaders, ministers, civil society, businesses, international organisations and the media usually attend these conferences.
African Climate Dialogues
These dialogues have been taking place mostly among African faith-based organisations and civil society but also with European counterpart organisations. The conversations were held between July and September this year. In his remarks, Cardinal Ambongo launches the fruit of these conversations incidentally said to have been inspired by Pope Francis.
“Sometimes it is difficult to see the solutions to this complex situation. We can, however, be certain of a few things. For example, we know that the Global North is largely responsible for the climate crisis and must contribute its fair share to address it. This means leading the way in emissions reductions, providing funding for climate adaptation, loss and damage, and supporting countries in the Global South to achieve just levels of development within planetary boundaries. We know that the most promising solutions will reflect key principles of Social Catholic Teaching,” explained Cardinal Ambongo.
Climate change crisis is a moral outrage
For Cardinal Ambongo, the climate change crisis is a moral outrage, a tragic and striking example of structural sin facilitated by callous indifference and selfish greed.
“The climate crisis is leading to the destruction of our planet, the devastation of the lives of the poor, and the detriment of future generations,” he said. He added, “We, Church leaders and civil society organisations in Africa and beyond, demand world leaders, business leaders and decision-makers to heed to this important communiqué, and in so doing, heed to the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth.”
Protect the Congo basin
Among other measures, Africa’s Faith-Based organisations and civil societies are demanding climate justice, Africa’s immediate transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy and the protection of the Congo Basin.
The organisations equally denounce greenwashing by some fossil-based transnational organisations as misleading and distracting.
The world’s wealthier nations have still not met their 100 billion dollars pledge to help developing countries deal with climate change.
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