The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
African Catholic Groups Call on Pope Francis to Support Divestment From Fossil Fuels Movement
In the struggle for climate justice, it is seldom that we have an opportunity to present the issues we are working on to progressive global leaders. Pope Francis’ critical views on social justice and the need to protect the environment are in part the reason why we see him as an ally in the fight for climate justice. So the 350 Africa teams in Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic (CAR) folded their sleeves to see how we could present some of our concerns during his recent visit.
We decided to write a letter to the Pope. It was humbling to not only have the letter welcomed by the Kenyan Nunciature, but to also see our concerns expressed in the Pope’s speech to the United Nations Environmental Program in Nairobi, where he stated that “COP21 represents an important stage in the process of developing a new energy system which depends on a minimal use of fossil fuels, aims at energy efficiency and makes use of energy sources with little or no carbon content.”
This is one of the closest to a clear call for divestment from fossil fuels that we have heard from the Pope. A fundamental issue in the call for divestment is that the fossil fuels industry has for a long time enjoyed the space to pollute and degrade the environments in which people around the globe rely. Countless communities have to deal with unrehabilitated mine dumps, poor air quality, water pollution and the subsequent diseases that the communities that drink from such water have to bear with.
In our letter to the Pope we asked: "Because of the grave threat of climate change and the fossil fuel sector’s unyielding refusal to change, it is no longer right for religious groups to profit from investments in such companies. We appeal for your support for the global divestment movement from the fossil fuel industry and to call for a just transition towards a world powered by 100 percent renewable energy."
Before President Uhuru Kenyata and other political leaders, Pope Francis acknowledged that “the grave environmental crisis facing our world demands an ever greater sensitivity to the relationship between human beings and nature.”
The present climate crisis is not an obscure phenomenon but a gradual and cumulative anthropogenic process that is now yielding results and at the heart of injustice in many parts of the world. Poverty, environmental degradation and climate change are not random but direct results of a global economic model centered on perpetual growth, consumption and individualism, powered by the extractive industries.
As this is being written the Save Lamu campaign is waging a struggle to save a World Heritage site with more than 700 years of culture and history from the imminent construction of a multipurpose port and coal-fired power station, “despite the community lacking awareness and failing to be consulted," as the Save Lamu site reads. Not even the strides made in Rwanda and recently in Morocco with large scale solar plants being put in place were considered. Our letter to Pope Francis also called for his solidarity with this campaign and the people of Lamu county.
We need to change the idea that the climate change crisis is to only be tackled by environmental organizations. The recent resolution of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to explore withdrawing their investments from companies that exploit fossil fuels, is an example of how faith groups can do their part in the climate movement through divestment.
We can’t put all our eggs in the COP21 basket; achieving a minimal or no-carbon energy system will require all of us across sectors to pull together in holding governments and corporations accountable. After all, they’re the ones who benefit from the fossil fuel industry and the ones who allow it to operate the way it does.
We are convinced that support from leaders like Pope Francis—who has more than a billion followers around the world, would go a long way in taking away the social license from the fossil fuels sector, opening the way for renewable energy as part of a development path that sees communities and the world in a better place beyond short term access to energy and employment.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jake Johnson
Calling the global climate crisis both the greatest threat facing the U.S. and the greatest opportunity for transformative change, Sen. Bernie Sanders unveiled today a comprehensive Green New Deal proposal that would transition the U.S. economy to 100 percent renewable energy and create 20 million well-paying union jobs over a decade.
The Parties to CITES agreed to list giraffes on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) today at the World Wildlife Conference or CoP18 in Geneva. Such protections will ensure that all giraffe parts trade were legally acquired and not sourced from the poached giraffes trade and will require countries to make non-detriment findings before allowing giraffe exports. The listing will also enable the collection of international trade data for giraffes that might justify greater protections at both CITES and other venues in the future.
The WHO stressed that more research is needed on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion. luchschen / iStock / Getty Images Plus
The UN's health agency on Thursday said that microplastics contained in drinking water posed a "low" risk at their current levels.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) — in its first report on the potential health risks of microplastic ingestion — also stressed more research was needed to reassure consumers.
'This is a Sick Statement': Brazil’s Bolsonaro, Under Pressure for Anti-Environmental Policies, Blames NGOs for Record Amazon Fires
'Work Together' or 'Destroy it': Goldman Prize Winner Francia Márquez on World's Second Deadliest Country For Environmental Activists
In April 2018, Afro-Colombian activist Francia Márquez won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, thanks to her work to retake her community's ancestral territories from illegal gold mining. However, her international recognition comes at a very risky price.
By Stuart Braun
A year after activist Greta Thunberg first stood in the rain outside the Swedish parliament with her now iconic "Skolstrejk för klimatet" — school strike for the climate — placard, the movement she spawned has set the tone for environmental protest action around the world.