The statement, released on 13th December, calls on all states to transition away from fossil fuels to avert the worst effects of climate change. However, after days of lobbying from oil-producing countries, the text does not include an explicit commitment to phase out fossil fuel use.
Without this explicit commitment to end the use of oil, gas and coal, countries will be able to continue using these forms of carbon which contribute greatly to anthropogenic climate change. COP28 was a chance for the international community to set down a marker and fundamentally commit to stop using fossil fuels. The failure to embrace this opportunity definitively means that oil, gas and coal production will continue; indeed, in some parts of the world, fossil fuel extraction is increasing. In the UK, the government says it will issue hundreds of new licences to exploit oil and gas in the North Sea, a move that will inevitably destabilise further the environment.
However, Jesuit Missions is pleased to see 150+ countries have pledged to put food in their new climate plans, but this does require finances which is arguably lacking. Additionally, the progress on the Loss and Damage Funds is a great start but needs to continue with further significant contributions to cover the cost of the impact of climate change in the Global South.
Jesuit Missions supports some of the most vulnerable communities in the world which are already grappling with the life-changing effects of increasing temperatures and rising sea levels. In Madagascar, for example, an ongoing drought in the south has left more than a million people with food insecurity; while in South Sudan, farmers are struggling to adapt their agricultural practices to an unpredictable climate. Together with its partners on the ground, Jesuit Missions is helping communities to adapt; but we also need the international community to play its part by ending fossil fuel use. Further delay continues to penalise the poorest people in the world who have done least to contribute to climate change.
Fr Pedro Walpole SJ, Research Director at the Environmental Science for Social Change project in the Philippines, was at COP28 and said:
“Disappointment is an understatement as countries weave loopholes in the text while doing business as usual. There is a high probability that the world will reach 1.5 C degree climate change by 2030 after more than 28 years of talking. Have people forgotten this year’s record-breaking summer temperatures? Yet it is worth pausing to recognize that, as war rages in different parts of the world, bringing nearly 200 countries together is an achievement despite the limitations of the process. The struggle goes on. May we continue to seek to serve better the human family and future generations.”
Jesuit Missions has been running a campaign, in collaboration with the Jesuit European Social Centre and the Jesuit Centre for Faith & Justice, in the run-up to and throughout COP28. This has included daily prayers, updates from COP, regular blog posts and a dedicated podcast series.
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This Thursday marks the 34th anniversary of the martyrdom in San Salvador of six Jesuits