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Catholic leaders in G20 countries urge consignment of fossil fuels to history

78 Catholic leaders in G20 countries appeal to world leaders to put a stop to the use of fossil fuels in a joint statement

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ

A group of Catholic leaders in G20 countries are demanding the consignment of fossil fuels to history as preparations ramp up ahead of the UN COP26 Climate Change Conference scheduled to be held from 1 – 12 November in Glasgow, Scotland.

In a statement released on Monday, a group of Cardinals, Archbishops and heads of religious congregations appealed to world leaders to take action to bring the use of fossil fuels to an end. Their appeal reiterates Pope Francis’ words during his Meeting with finance ministers from various nations in May 2019, during which the Holy Father bemoaned the continuous investments in fossil fuels “because we are trapped by our faulty accounting and by the corruption of vested interests” and “we still reckon as profit what threatens our very survival.”

“The science is clear,” said the Catholic leaders. “The world needs to keep fossil fuels in the ground if we are to limit global warming to a below 1.5 degrees temperature rise by the end of 2030.”

The climate emergency

In the statement signed by 78 Catholic leaders, they highlighted the ever-pressing urgency of taking steps to reduce the effects of climate change, especially on vulnerable communities.

“The voices from the communities we work with are ringing out,” they said. “Climate change is a present reality that is affecting our brothers and sisters around the world, particularly those in poor and climate-vulnerable communities who have contributed to this issue the least. We see increasingly severe and frequent droughts and floods, loss of crops, and destruction of land.”

“We cannot and must not be quiet in the face of such suffering and injustice,” the Catholic leaders insisted,

Appeal to governments

Stressing that “our moral duty is unquestionable,” the Catholic leaders in G20 countries called on advanced economies to act first and quickly to tackle climate change and to protect future generations and our common home.

“We must face our historic responsibility and act with justice, standing in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in our own countries and around the world,” they said.

In this regard, the Catholic leaders called on governments to use the G20 meetings in October to consign fossil fuels to history by stopping any new developments of coal, oil and gas within G20 countries and immediately ending all funding of fossil fuels abroad.

They also encouraged the governments to scale up investments in clean and safe forms of energy while prioritizing energy access for the poorest communities, and to make good on promises to provide climate finance to support communities affected by the impacts of climate change.

“We need to act now. We do not have the luxury of time on our side,” the G20 Catholic leaders urged.

Signatories to the joint statement include President of the Comission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ., Vice President of the Symposium of Bishops’ Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Latin America (CELAM), Archbishop Jorge Lozano, and lead bishop for environmental issues of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Bishop John Arnold, among others.

13 October 2021, 13:19