Jesuit Networks Advocating for Climate Action
Xavier Network together with the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar call on European and African political leaders: Climate Action cannot wait.
The 26th UN climate summit known as COP26 was to take place in Glasgow on November 9. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisers decided to postpone the event that will finally take place from 1 to 12 November 2021.
Despite the postponement, there is no doubt that it will be an essential and decisive milestone for our planet’s future. It is a critical decade for the fight against climate change. The world needs more than ever a more intense response, allowing environmental regeneration without forgetting social and economic progress. While COP26 arrives, international institutions, companies, and governments are preparing to address the debates that will take place there.
- A year ago, during COP25, this platform hosted the initiative promoted by Ecojesuit, "Mobilize and act for climate change", which was linked to the worldwide campaign #TimeToAct. It included a signatures collection with specific requests to governments and also mobilizations in educational centers and campaign on social networks.
For this reason, taking advantage of the symbolic date of November 9, the Xavier Network, which includes the Jesuit organizations and missions of international cooperation, and the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar, have sent a letter to several political leaders: Boris Johnson, President of the United Kingdom, the country that will co-host the next COP26; Chancellor Angela Merkel, President of the Council of the European Union; Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission; and Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the African Union. In the letter sent, signed by Frank Janin SJ, President of the Xavier Network, and by Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator SJ, President of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar, the Jesuits highlight several points about the fight against climate change and poverty in Africa.
For the Jesuits, the preoccupation with Corona and the postponement of the COP 26 meeting at Glasgow raise concern that efforts to combat Climate Change are postponed.
Against this, the Jesuits want to emphasize:
- COVID-19 is a serious problem, but Climate Change also continues. When billions of USD and Euro are released to fight Corona, they need to be spent in a way that adaptation, mitigation, and resilience in view of climate change is part of the package. We need a social and ecological transformation to tackle the multiple crises of our time.
- Africa suffers more (most?) from COVID-19 since its already existing problems of debt and poverty have been exacerbated while nothing is left to tackle the increasingly felt consequences of climate change and other plagues arising from the overuse and pollution of natural resources.
- Europe historically and presently belongs to the largest polluters and it has therefore to honour its commitments given at the Paris Agreement (contributing to the 100 bn annually) and in Rio 1992 (Principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibility). This can be done directly via the transfer/investment of money and technology, or indirectly by assisting Africa in improving in Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and fighting Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs).
- Time is running out, tipping points are fast approaching. Hence Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change, need to be formulated not by looking backward to 1990 figures, but ahead to the global CO2-budget remaining before the 1.5/2 degree threshold is irrevocably crossed.
- Here, synergy between Europe and Africa can be exploited. For example: Helping Africa leapfrogging fossil industry is more effective to combat climate change than “cheating” by exporting dirty industry to poor countries, thus polishing own statistics by merely shifting the problem.
- Therefore: Given problems in the global, UN-sponsored COP process, the Jesuits argue for speeding up an Enhanced AU-EU cooperation.
Author: Xavier Network, Jesuit Network
(*)The Xavier Network is an international mission and development partnership between Jesuit organisations working in faith to promote justice. More info at xavier.network