Jesuits join rally ahead of Paris climate talks

The Climate Change Rally in London in June, credit: Ben Philipps
The Climate Change Rally in London in June, credit: Ben Philipps

This Sunday, 29 November, thousands of people will come together at London’s biggest ever climate event. Among them will be supporters of Jesuit Missions and others from Jesuit works throughout Britain. The rally has been planned to take place just before world leaders meet for major climate change negotiations at a global summit in Paris: the 21st Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP21.

The People’s Climate March London will demonstrate how much public support there is for ambitious climate action. As a member of the Climate Coalition, Jesuit Missions is part of the UK’s largest group of people dedicated to action on climate change and to limiting its impact on the world’s poorest communities. It is also a direct response to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si, in which he called on “every person living on this planet” – not just government officials and policy-makers – to respond to the environmental challenges we are facing and to take urgent action. He reiterated his message when speaking at the United Nations in Nairobi this week.

Jesuits will be among the lobbyists in Paris for COP21, which is due to last two weeks. “None of the world’s economic or ecosystem flows are going to become more sustainable and inclusive unless, one by one, we change,” says Fr Pedro Walpole SJ of the Institute of Environmental Science for Social Change in the Philippines who will be in Paris. “We need to find a simpler lifestyle and transcend our wants and images of success through a spirituality of presence and reconciliation. We need to hear the call anew and respond with reflection and perseverance, in solidarity with others.”

A choice which cannot be ignored

Speaking in Nairobi on Thursday, Pope Francis said that world leaders must reach a historic agreement to fight climate change and poverty at the coming talks in Paris, as we are facing the stark choice to either “improve or destroy the environment”. On the first full day of his visit to Africa, he was addressing an audience at the UN Environment Programme headquarters in Kenya. “We are confronted with a choice which cannot be ignored,” he told them, adding that the international community had to listen to the “cry rising up from humanity and the earth itself”. In a long address in Spanish at the United Nations regional office, Francis said it would be “catastrophic” if particular interests prevailed over the common good of people and the planet or if the conference were manipulated by business interests.

“On Sunday, Jesuit Missions will be part of a huge lobby that will be sending a message to the politicians that the world is expecting results from the talks in Paris,” says Richard Greenwood, the Deputy Director of Jesuit Missions. “ Our partners around the world include those who respond to disasters, work in agriculture, and live in communities impacted by mining. The Pope was emphatic in his speech to the UN when he said: ‘The ecological crisis, and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity, can threaten the very existence of the human species’”.

The Jesuit Missions team will assemble with other faith-based groups at the start of the march at Hyde Park Corner on Park Lane near Curzon Street at meeting point B at 12 noon on Sunday. The People’s Climate March will move off at 1pm through central London and will finish with a rally with inspirational speakers on Millbank, outside Westminster, due to finish at 3.45pm. Find out more >>>