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Urgency on the climate crisis

Religious leaders, and believers in general, can play an important role in calling for bold action in the implementation of the Paris Agreement to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Pope Francis’ warning that it is the poorest who suffer the most the consequences of the attacks on the environment has made of him an advocate for the poor and an influential promoter of climate justice. 

His encyclical letter Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common House of June, 2015 was a timely call to governments ahead of the Paris Climate Summit to sign a climate treaty. It was the first time that a pope dedicated an encyclical to ecology, placing it within a moral framework and associating it to issues of poverty and justice. 

In a recent essay, "The cry of the climate and the cry of the poor," Tomás Insua, executive director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, allocates an important role to world religions in the struggle against climate change,  following the Argentine pope's example. Appealing to people’s faith can provide an alternative course of action by engaging  believers in motivating humanity to alter habits that are damaging to our common home, adds the activist.  

There is ample scientific evidence to prove that human activity has been disrupting the climate system and, yet, this has not been enough to mobilize citizens and societies to action. Governments have relegated the issue to secondary level priority, even though they are aware of the tragic consequences. 

A case in point is the recent pullout of President Trump from the Paris Climate Agreement. There was an uproar for the U.S. withdrawal, with heads of states and corporations vowing to work together to implement the treaty even without the Americans.  

Religious leaders, together with their millions of faithful, can play an important role in calling for bold action in the implementation of the Paris Agreement to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. 

This ambitious goal requires countries to move from fossil fuels to clean energy in a short span of time. 

There is a sense of urgency to act upon the current climate crisis. Pope Francis has made a decisive contribution with his Laudato Si’ document by stressing the need for immediate action on this crisis: “Our common home is falling into serious disrepair …we can see signs that things are now reaching a breaking point” (n. 61).  

Our faith urges us to collaborate as one family in tackling the common challenge of climate change. As Pope Francis suggests, “humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home’’ (n. 13). 

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