Catholic activists fighting to save climate deal

Catholic climate activists are attempting to save a global climate deal at the UN Conference in Glasgow as it begins, amid fears grow it could end in disaster.

Pope Francis’ decision to not attend the 26th UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, known as COP26, was the latest in a string of blows to the event. Postponed for a year because of the pandemic, the leaders of China and India have also said they will not attend and string of corporate sponsors have threatened to withdraw their backing over mismanagement.

As part of the Catholic effort to force world leaders to strike a deal that protects the poorest from the impact of climate change, all 8 Scottish dioceses announced this week they would no longer hold shares in fossil fuel companies.

Bishop Bill Nolan of Galloway said the bishops had decided to divest from such companies to show that the status quo is not acceptable.

“Given the harm that the production and consumption of fossil fuels is causing to the environment and to populations in low income countries, it was not right to profit from investment in these companies,” he said. “Disinvestment is a sign that justice demands that we must move away from fossil fuels.’

The announcement was part of a commitment by dozens of religious groups from every inhabited continent and will apply to more than £3 billion of assets.

Catholic charities are also working to ensure that people from the world’s poorest countries are heard at the summit.

“This cannot be a meeting about them without them,” said Alistair Dutton, a member of the Holy See delegation to COP26 and the chief executive of SCIAF.

At past climate conferences ‘those who are suffering most already get pushed to the sidelines, and it ends up being a talking shop among the wealthier nations,” he said.

SCIAF is covering the expenses of a group of people from Malawi, Zambia, Colombia and other nations so they could attend COP26 to call for urgent action against the climate crises they already live with.

Hosted by the United Kingdom in partnership with Italy, the October 31-November 12 global climate summit aims to have world leaders put forward concrete ways to cut global emissions by half by 2030, and reach ‘net-zero’ emissions by 2050 as part of efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

The Vatican delegation, led by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, will include officials from the Secretariat of State and the integral development dicastery.

Salesian Father Joshtrom Kureethadam, coordinator of the ‘ecology and creation’ desk at the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, will also be part of that delegation and said ‘We go there to represent the church, as Christians’ and as one of the many faith communities that know the Earth is not just a planet, but God’s creation.

Caption: An activist takes part in a protest ahead of the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, Oct. 28, 2021. (CNS photo/Russell Cheyne, Reuters)

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