Create a climate of change

This is the slogan for our upcoming 2015 education and action campaign this fall! In anticipation of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) in December 2015, where world leaders will negotiate a new international agreement that will determine the future of climate change, Development and Peace is joining  Catholic and civil society organizations around the world who are taking action for climate justice.

“Climate-related disasters are a reality both for poor countries on the margins of the modern economy and for those at its heart. Consider the devastating droughts from California to Syria to Africa. Consider the increasing prevalence of extreme weather events, which always hit the poor hardest.”

Those were the words used by Cardinal Peter Turkson in his opening speech at a workshop on April 28 at the Vatican organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, entitled “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development.”

Over a hundred world leaders gathered at this workshop to discuss the links between climate change and poverty. It was organized to pave the way for the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical on ecology to be published this summer.

Development and Peace shares the concerns of the Church: climate change is the single greatest threat to poverty reduction. Everyone in our global village is affected by climate change, but it is the poor who are paying the biggest price.

The connection between climate change and the current dominant economic model is becoming increasingly obvious. As emphasized by Cardinal Turkson: “We need to shift away from an unthinking infatuation with GDP and a single-minded zeal for accumulation. We need to learn to work together towards sustainable development in a framework that links economic prosperity with both social inclusion and protection of the natural world.”

The transition away from an economy founded on oil and its derivatives is a challenge. But it is possible and—above all—necessary. One need only turn to the Philippines, Ethiopia and Honduras to see the impacts on countries that are extremely vulnerable to climate change, as they suffer the consequences of typhoons, droughts and environmental degradation.

The partner organizations of Development and Peace are reminding us not only of the need to support them in their efforts to adapt to climate change, but also of the need to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions in order to reduce climate disasters.

Our overconsumption combined with political inaction on global warming are fueling extreme weather events, and are leading to long-term damage to the living environments and livelihoods of poor communities in the Global South. Reducing our consumption and demanding political action addresses the structural causes at the root of climate-related disasters, but also creates the conditions for the sustainable development of communities.

As part of this campaign, which will begin next September, Development and Peace invite Canadians to reduce our consumption and to make sustainable choices. We will ask our government to transition towards an economy based on renewable energy and energy efficiency, and to unconditionally support the adoption of a new global agreement on climate change in Paris that is fair, ambitious and legally binding.

Create a Climate of Change