For a more just and sustainable future

Scores of Jesuit Missions supporters were among the thousands who took part in yesterday’s Climate Coalition rally in Westminster. They were joined by students and staff from Jesuit schools, as well as Jesuits from Britain and overseas. Jesuit Missions is one of 100 organisations that make up the Climate Coalition, which is raising concerns over the threat posed by climate change and highlighting its impact on the world’s poorest communities.

Addressing the campaigners in Farm Street Church Hall, Mayfair, before they set off, the British Jesuit Provincial, Fr Dermot Preston SJ said their primary task was to raise awareness among politicians and decision-makers in Westminster. He said it was easy to take the beauty of the natural world for granted, stressing that it was important to recognise not only threats to the environment but also opportunities to improve our relationship with it.

“Yesterday we joined thousands of people on the streets of Westminster to urge our politicians to take urgent and decisive action to tackle climate change,” said Paul Chitnis, the Director of Jesuit Missions. “They need to act both here in the UK and at the Paris meeting in December to ensure that climate change is at the forefront of the global political agenda. We owe it to the poorest people, who suffer most from the impact of global warming, and to future generations to do everything we can to build a more just and sustainable future.  We echo Pope Francis’ urgent call for a new dialogue about the future of our planet and for action on behalf of the poorest.”

Global concerns

Among those who took part in the Climate Coalition rally were students from Wimbledon College, Stonyhurst College (Lancashire) and Heythrop College, University of London. Staff from Donhead Lodge in Wimbledon, as well as the Wimbledon College Chaplain, also joined the rally. They heard George Gelber from Jesuit Missions describe them as ‘advocates’ – people who wanted to persuade others over to their argument. He reminded the pupils that many of them would be entitled to vote by the time of the next General Election and said that politicians would be impressed by the fact they were concerned about the situation facing people all over the world, not simply on their own doorsteps.Climate Coalition in Westminster

Mr Gelber highlighted three issues that lobbyists needed to raise when they met their Members of Parliament: a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the need to reduce consumption of energy and the need to retain subsidies for a more energy-efficient environment.  The rally took place the day before the publication of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, and in the context of the meeting of world leaders due to take place in Paris in December, when they will be discussing a global agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Main photo: Stephen Timms MP meets Jesuit Missions supporters in Westminster. Right: The lobbyists process along the River Thames on their way to the rally. (Sam Aidoo/Jesuit Missions)