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COP26: CAFOD joins Pope Francis in calling for climate action

The Director of the Catholic development agency CAFOD, Christine Allen, welcomes Cardinal Parolin’s address on behalf of the Pope at the COP26 Climate Summit and says “time is running out” in the battle against climate change.

By Lydia O’Kane

As the COP26 Climate Summit continues in Glasgow, Scotland, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development in England and Wales (CAFOD) has joined Pope Francis’ call to act now in the battle against climate change.

Representing the Pope at the summit, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, addressed delegates on Tuesday telling them: “We can achieve the goals set by the Paris Agreement only if we act in a coordinated and a responsible way. Those goals are ambitious, and they can no longer be deferred.”

“Now is the time to act, urgently, courageously and responsibly. Not least, to prepare a future in which our human family will be in a position to care for itself and for the natural environment,” the Cardinal said.

Listening to those affected by Climate Change

Reacting to the Cardinal’s speech, the Director of CAFOD, Christine Allen, said, “Cardinal Parolin emphasised that the voices of communities hardest hit by the effects of the climate crisis must be listened to, and for world leaders to redouble their efforts to work together to provide the practical policies that match the demands of this crisis.”

She went on to say that “from the start of his papacy, Pope Francis has prioritised environmental issues, highlighting how the current global economic models, policies and industrial systems are disastrous to the planet, and the cause of untold suffering and injustice to the world’s most vulnerable communities.”

Climate justice

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Ms. Allen said:  “It’s really critical that countries that have become wealthy through industrialization, and which have been fueled by fossil fuel, that we recognise the responsibility that we have to be able to really take the lead and to take the actions that are necessary, and Pope Francis is highlighting that. This is fundamentally a question of climate justice but it’s the people who are poorest in our world that have done the least to contribute to the changes in our climate that are paying the price, and they’re paying that price now.”

Listen to the interview

Church engagement

In early October, during the 'Faith and Science: Towards COP26' meeting held in the Vatican, Pope Francis, along with scientists and religious leaders, signed a document calling for the world to achieve net-zero carbon emissions as soon as possible; and for wealthier nations to reduce their own emissions and finance emission reductions by poorer nations.

Commenting on the Church’s response to the climate crisis, the CAFOD director underlined that “the Church is at the forefront of the climate issue because the Church is there in communities; those very communities that are facing the impact of climate change.”

“What we’re talking about is more droughts, more floods, more erratic weather that makes it much more difficult for people who are dependent upon the earth to grow crops and feed their families,” she said.

“So the Church is there in practice doing the support for communities, and I know this because CAFOD is doing that as well. We are supporting people and communities and Church-based organizations around the world in helping to adapt, in helping to be more aware of what can they do in order to respond to the climate crisis.”

Need for financing

Ms. Allen acknowledged that making changes towards a more sustainable way of living is not always going to be easy, especially “for communities that are poor, whether that be here in the UK or particularly around the world.”

She also pointed out that financing is needed to help countries make that transition. “We know that the 100 billion dollars a year climate fund is still short of its target and it’s time for countries to put their money where their mouth is.”

Youth and climate

Over the last number of years, it is young people that have been leading the charge on the climate issue, calling on world leaders to step up to the plate and take action to make the planet a better place for future generations.

CAFOD has been involved in supporting young people in voicing their opinion about climate change for many years both in schools and in youth work.

Commenting on the engagement of youth in the battle against global warming, Ms. Allen said she is “consistently inspired by young people. They’re the ones who can see that future… and they’re not holding back… and we need to listen to that.”

It’s also very “necessary and vital” that world leaders hear the voice and the passion of young people, she added.

No time to lose

As the clock ticks and temperatures continue to rise, the CAFOD director stressed the importance of taking action now. “We know we’ve got less than a decade to really turn this around, and that’s why the action has got to take place now in the next few years. One of the reasons we are on a precipice is because we have not taken action, strongly and firmly enough for so many years.”

She went on to say that many organisations including CAFOD have been campaigning for many years to make sure that the voices warning over the impact of climate change are heard.

“The time is running out and obviously it doesn’t all rest on this COP, but the longer that world leaders prevaricate, the longer that it takes them to actually put the transition into place, the harder, more difficult and more expensive that transition is going to be,” she said.

“We have got to see change in the next couple of years significantly or else we are going to run out of road."

03 November 2021, 13:32