Ecojesuit supports climate emergency declarations

Ecojesuit strongly supports the recent declaration of a climate emergency by Pope Francis and his appeals for urgent collaborative action to this global challenge, with hope and with care and where young people and businesses take leading roles along with greater political action.

The message of Pope Francis is clear and direct. He expresses the urgency and depth of the problem facing humanity. “We do not have the luxury of waiting for others to step forward, or of prioritizing short-term economic benefits. The climate crisis requires ‘our decisive action, here and now’ and the Church is fully committed to playing her part.”

In his address during the Vatican Dialogues on The Energy Transition and Care of our Common Home, the Pope urged an audience of more than a dozen chief executive officers (CEOs) of major energy and investment companies to hear “the increasingly desperate cries of the earth and its poor” to address climate change and keep global warming temperature within the 1.5ºC limit, as outlined in the IPCC Special Report 15.

Climate action is not just environmental action. It is also a very human action as our dignity and human rights are threatened by increasing global temperatures. The impact of climate change is being felt in places throughout India and South Africa, with extreme drought and extended dry spells severely affecting millions of people. The changing climate is also being felt across the Asia Pacific region, where farming is increasingly becoming a gamble with high risks due to unpredictable weather patterns.

An outcome of the Vatican dialogues is the release of the joint statements on climate risk disclosures and carbon pricing, after the closed-door meeting with Pope Francis. With their global leadership in the energy sector and investment, the CEOs “recognize that a significant acceleration of the transition to a low-carbon future beyond current projections requires sustained, large-scale action and additional technological solutions to keep global warming below 2ºC while advancing human and economic prosperity.”

Signatories included CEOs of Royal Dutch Shell, L1 Energy, Eni, BP, ExxonMobil, Total, Chevron Corporation, BlackRock, Hermes Investment, ConocoPhillips, BNP Paribas Asset Management, Repsol, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Equinor, among others.

The joint statement agreed on the need for a three-pronged approach that includes: a) reliable and economically meaningful carbon pricing regimes; b) policy and carbon pricing mechanisms that deliver innovation and investment in low-carbon solutions while assisting those who are least able to pay; and c) the requirement of transparency, advocacy and ongoing engagement from the energy sector to achieve government policy changes towards effective carbon pricing.

Although no pledges or timetables were given, this is a very important step as we move towards greater collaborative action in addressing the climate emergency.

There is also a growing movement that campaigns for climate emergency declarations by government leaders. The Climate Emergency Declaration calls on elected leaders to declare a climate emergency as a “first step in mobilizing government and community resources and funds that are not normally available.” The movement started in Australia in May 2016 and as of June, nearly 700 jurisdictions in 15 countries have declared climate emergency. The campaign goal is for “governments to declare a climate emergency and mobilize society-wide resources at sufficient scale and speed to protect civilization, the economy, people, species, and ecosystems.”

There is still hope and there remains time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change provided there is prompt and resolute action, for we know that “(h)uman beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.”(Laudato Si’ 205)

This article was first published on Ecojesuit's website.