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A peaceful future depends on climate justice now

Categories: Articles:Environment | Published: 01/12/2015 | Views: 1353
Pax Christi International statement on COP21
The Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM), of which Pax Christi International is a member, has collected more than 800.000 signatures on its Catholic Climate Petition, to be delivered on 28 November to world leaders attending COP21. The petition, inspired by the words of Pope Francis in Laudato Si’, urges leaders to drastically cut carbon emissions.

Thousands of people from government, industry, intergovernmental organisations and civil society are expected to attend meetings and activities during the UN climate change conference (COP21), to be held 30 November–11 December 2015 in Paris.

Pax Christi International and its member organisations strongly believe gross misuse of natural resources and environmental degradation significantly contributes to instability and conflict around the world. In that light, we want COP21 to be treated as a peace conference; if strong and effective decisions are made in Paris, a more peaceful future is possible.

Marches in support of definitive and strong results from COP21 have been scheduled to be held on 29 November in more than 2,000 cities around the world. Regrettably, the Paris march, which was supposed to be the largest one, was cancelled by the French government after the November 13 terrorist attacks.

We cannot allow terror to change the subject of COP21. With resource wars AND climate instability both driving migration, the goal of the summit must be creating the conditions for lasting peace. Delegates must agree on legally enforceable commitments to keep fossil-fuel reserves in the ground; poorer countries must receive funding to deal with climate change; and those who are migrating due to climate change must have their rights respected.

Pax Christi International believes that the Green Climate Fund (GCF) can be a significant support to many countries which lack the resources to engage in a low-emission and climate-resilient development. However, despite wealthy nations agreeing to give the GCF USD$100 billion per year by 2020, the current giving level is only USD$1.5 billion per year. Compare this with more than USD$1 trillion that is spent on weapon systems and military might in one year [3] – the contrast in priorities is devastating.

Pax Christi International recognises the concern around large public gatherings at this time; even though millions of people around the world live in areas of active war and insecurity, much more attention is given when violent attacks occur in what up until then had been “safe” spaces. But is it possible for decision makers at COP21 to hear, recognize and respond to the emphatic demands of civil society, if the most vibrant expression of civil society is silenced?

With civil society prohibited from demonstrating in the streets of Paris, other efforts to raise awareness and demand results must be intensified; our voices must become louder. The chance for a peaceful future depends on climate justice now.

27 November 2015

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