Catholic Bishops Launch Radical Appeal to ‘Put an End to the Fossil Fuel Era’

Pope Francis (C) greets bishops at the end of an audience to the participants in the pilgr
AFP/Andreas Solaro

In the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris next month, a group of cardinals, patriarchs and bishops have called for a radical, legally binding international climate agreement that mandates, among other things, complete global decarbonization by 2050 and “an end to the fossil fuel era.”

The nine prelates claim to represent “the Catholic Church from the five continents” and will address participants in the COP 21 in Paris taking place from November 30 to December 11, 2015. Signers include Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, the president of the U.S. Bishops Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the union of European Bishops Conferences (COMECE) and Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the Archbishop of Bombay.

Drawing inspiration from Pope Francis’ encyclical letter on the environment Laudato Sì, the bishops express the “widely-held hope that a just and legally binding climate agreement will emerge from the negotiations of the COP 21 in Paris,” and to this end, advance “a ten-point policy proposal.”

In their appeal, the bishops reference the “dramatic acceleration of climatic change,” which, they say, “is the result of unrestrained human activity.” They also claim that this ecological phenomenon is primarily due to “excessive reliance on fossil fuels.”

“The Pope and Catholic Bishops from five continents,” the declaration states, “appeal for a drastic reduction in the emission of carbon dioxide and other toxic gases.”

Human-induced climate change, the bishops continue, is having a “dramatic impact” on “sea levels, extreme weather events, deteriorating ecosystems and the loss of biodiversity.”

The ten-point plan advanced by the bishops calls for the adoption of “a fair, transformational and legally binding global agreement based on our vision of the world.”

It also calls for strongly limiting global temperature increase and “complete decarbonization by mid-century,” proposing mandatory periodic reviews of the pledges made by governments.

Central to the goal of fashioning “new models of development and lifestyles that are climate compatible,” the bishops assert, is “to put an end to the fossil fuel era, phasing out fossil fuel emissions, including emissions from military, aviation and shipping.”

The bishops conclude their appeal with a “Prayer for the Earth,” in which they implore God to inspire government leaders as they gather in Paris “to listen to and heed the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome


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