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RC Bishops call for climate deal

12 December 2014

Fossil-fuel emissions should be replaced by 100-per-cent renewables and sustainable energy for all, writes Joe Ware in Lima


Ecological concerns: Segundina Cumapa Rejino, an indigenous Shipibo-Conipo leader from Pucallpa, Peru, who is in Lima for the Tribunal on the Rights of Nature, running concurrently with the UN talks 

Ecological concerns: Segundina Cumapa Rejino, an indigenous Shipibo-Conipo leader from Pucallpa, Peru, who is in Lima for the Tribun...

ROMAN CATHOLIC bishops from around the world have called for "an end of the fossil-fuel era" and for "all Catholics and people of good will" to engage with the process of securing a global agreement next year in Paris to tackle climate change.

The statement, made by Bishops from Europe, Africa, Latin America, and Asia, comes as negotiators from more than 190 countries meet in Lima, Peru, to work on the details of a deal that would significantly reduce carbon pollution and provide support for poor countries having to adapt to climate change.

The Bishops called on countries to secure a deal that would keep the global average temperature rise to no more than 1.5° above pre-industrial levels. It is currently at 0.85° and scientists say that, without action to curb emissions, a rise of closer to 4° is expected. Hot regions of the world could expect rises much greater than the average.

The Bishops' statement said: "We as Bishops call on all parties to build new models of development, and lifestyles that are both climate- compatible and bring people out of poverty. Central to this is to put an end to the fossil-fuel era, phasing out fossil-fuel emissions and phasing in 100-per-cent renewables with sustainable energy access for all."

It goes on: "We Bishops call on all Catholics and people of good will to engage on the road to Paris as a starting point for a new life in harmony with Creation, respecting planetary boundaries."

The statement precedes a keenly awaited papal encyclical on the environment next year, and echoes similar calls from Anglican clergy such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who backed an apartheid-style disinvestment campaign of fossil-fuel companies last year.

As the talks in Lima reached their conclusion, thousands of people marched through the centre of the city on Wednesday, calling on leaders to take action that would pave the way to a strong outcome in Paris.

The advocacy adviser at Christian Aid, Fran Witt, who was at the march, said that faith groups were an increasingly important voice in the debate. She said: "Climate change disproportionately affects the poorest people the most, despite them not being the ones responsible for causing it. That is why, at its core, climate change is a matter of injustice and why Christians are increasingly speaking up about it."

Talks in Lima are expected to conclude in the early hours of Saturday morning, as negotiators work through the night.

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