An update on the 2015 Fall Education Campaign Creating a Climate of Change

The 2015 Development and Peace fall education campaign has been a big success with thousands of Canadians across the country leading the campaign in their communities, parishes, and schools.

Launched on September 1st on the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation declared by Pope Francis, the campaign focussed on the impact of climate change on the most poor and vulnerable in the world, with the message that we need to change ourselves and our systems in order to address climate change.

Following the launch of the Pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si, this campaign showed that change needs to happen at the individual, community, and national level.

Development and Peace led this campaign here in Canada, while Catholics around the world expressed their commitment to respecting creation through networks such as the Global Catholic Climate Movement, and through CIDSE’s Change for the Planet, Care for the People campaign.

From October 23-25, 2015, over 30 climate vigils were organized by Development and Peace members across the country. Then, as world leaders descended upon Paris for the COP21 climate negotiations, 785,000 people marched worldwide to tell them that it is time to take real action on climate change. Here in Canada, 25,000 people gathered in Ottawa, while other marches took place from Antigonish, Nova Scotia to Vancouver, B.C.

Development and Peace has distributed thousands of action cards across Canada calling on the Prime Minister to take action on climate change. These cards are currently being counted, and we will know in early February the exact number of cards that have been received.

Canadians who signed the cards also committed to personally make a lifestyle change so that we do everything we can to reduce our impact on the climate. Change must take place at every level for the survival of people in the Global South, and for the survival of our planet.

We have already seen results since the action cards began pouring into the Prime Minister’s office. Using the card, Canadians were asking for leadership at the Paris talks, and for generosity so that communities can adapt to the impacts of climate change. In Paris at COP21, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna took a leadership role in the talks, encouraging the other States to ambitiously work towards the goal of ensuring that the world’s temperature rise does not exceed 1.5°C. Canada has also made a commitment to providing resources so that the most vulnerable communities can adapt to climate change. The card also asks the federal government to make the transition from a fossil-fuel dependent economy towards one that is based on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

A Development and Peace delegation of staff and members went to Paris to monitor the negotiations of 195 countries inside the United Nations venue and join the citizen mobilisations and public events throughout the city, which were the culmination of citizen mobilisations around the world.

As the Canadian negotiators returned home with a signed climate agreement, and a lot of work ahead in order to respect it, our Development and Peace delegation left Paris with a stronger commitment to be part of the transition to a world based on climate justice, and ensuring that our government fulfills the commitments that it has made.