For the first time in history, the governments of the world struck an agreement to act together on climate change. Last Saturday, the Paris Climate Agreement was signed by 195 countries committing to the end of the fossil fuel era with a long-term goal to bring emissions to zero and a regular review of national commitments every five years. (See more of the agreement here)
This is a historic moment.
Just as the pink candle on our Advent wreath offers us a moment to rejoice as we await Christ, we too give thanks for this turning point in the global response to the ecological crisis that Pope Francis called for in his Encyclical.
We particularly celebrate the agreement’s goal to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Catholic Climate Petition which you have been promoting, forwarding, and tweeting has been the ONLY petition campaign that championed the 1.5°C target. This target, which was supported by the Vatican, was enshrined in the agreement and now is the tool by which we will hold our governments accountable (as Bill McKibben well said in a recent article) and demand to keep fossil fuels in the ground to transition to a world powered by renewable energy.
Your work contributed to this more ambitious commitment through the 900,000 signatures we presented to the highest political bodies of the COP21 including French President Hollande, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres and locally to the governments in the United States, UK, Australia, and Ireland.
Thank you for being a part of this important petition effort.
While we recognize this major shift in climate policy, we also acknowledge that the Paris Agreement has many problems that perpetuate climate injustice. Issues of climate finance for developing countries are not fully addressed. Language on human rights (read more here) was excluded. And it leaves out the practicalities of how our governments are going to reach their ambitious targets, given that their current climate plans are very far from what we urgently need.
On Sunday, Pope Francis remarked on the results of the COP21: “With the hope that special attention for the most vulnerable populations is guaranteed, I exhort the whole international community to proceed on the path undertaken at COP21 in the name of an ever more effective solidarity.”
While ignited by the possibilities of the Paris Climate Agreement, we take this time to recommit to climate justice to ensure that the poor and vulnerable are protected from climate disruption. Moving forward the GCCM will work to hold our governments and corporations accountable to the carbon emission reductions and financial promises they made in Paris. Won't you join us?
Thank you for all your prayers, your petitioning, and marching these last weeks. You helped to create this special moment. With your continuing support, we look forward to seeing what amazing things we will do together in 2016.
Tomas, Christina, Lou, Fabian, Igor, Leila, Janine, Marie and the rest of the GCCM team