(Updated from the July 31 Editorial “Ecojesuit statement supporting the Global Climate Strike”. To support this joint statement, please visit this link.)
Climate change “represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day” (Laudato Si’ 25) and poses a great threat to the dignity and rights of future generations. In June this year, Pope Francis declared a climate emergency in front of chief executive officers and representatives of major energy and investment companies. He stressed the urgency of action, saying, “Dear friends, time is running out! Deliberations must go beyond mere exploration of what can be done, and concentrate on what needs to be done, starting today.”
Time is certainly running out. In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a Special Report indicating the need for broader and more urgent action, as climate change was found to be accelerating at a faster pace than previously expected. This could severely affect our Common Home’s capacity to support life systems by 2030. As such, Ecojesuit and partners strongly support the Global Climate Strike activities, 20 to 27 September 2019, and encourages all to take urgent and sustained climate action.
The Global Climate Strike is a strategic and opportune time to encourage local and global leaders to embark in greater efforts to address the climate emergency. Millions around the world will engage in climate action at the same time as leaders and representatives of communities, civil society, governments, and businesses convene for the UN General Assembly from 17 to 30 September. This includes events such as the Youth Climate Summit on 21 September, the Climate Action Summit on 23 September, and the SDG Summit on 24 to 25 September. Regional Climate Weeks were also held in preparation: Africa Climate Week in Accra, Ghana from 18 to 22 March, Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week in Salvador, Brazil from 19 to 23 August, and the Asia-Pacific Climate Week in Bangkok, Thailand from 2 to 6 September.
Ecojesuit and partners are engaging in several dimensions. First, we continue to engage in climate strike activities through our education institutes. Institutes that joined previous climate strikes include St Aloysius College in Australia, Gonzaga College and Belvedere College in Ireland, Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Spain, and Apu Palamguwan Cultural Education Center in the Philippines. We encourage schools, universities, and all places of learning to hold dialogues, discussions, and other educational activities that support the strike. Action need not always begin on the streets; it can be in the classroom and at home.
Second, through media channels and networks, we are sharing news and materials on the climate emergency and the different actions our institutes and partners are undertaking. This is being done by Ecojesuit, Ignatian Solidarity Network, Global Catholic Climate Movement, and many more. We invite others to join, together we can communicate a message of hope.
Third, we are collaborating with others in solidarity for the youth and future generations. For example, a Jesuit /Ignatian delegation participated in the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York in July, where they reviewed the progress on the SDGs with partners and discussed possible action points. This included SDG 13 on Climate Action. In October, together with the Church, we will hear from Indigenous Peoples around the world in the Synod for the Pan-Amazon Region. This is of primary importance as they are the ones who watch over the tropical rainforests and waters in the Amazon, Congo Basin, Asia-Pacific, and other areas that protect us from the worsening impact of climate change. In December, we will continue to engage in the annual UN Climate Change Conference (COP), where Jesuits have been involved since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.
We welcome more people and institutions to join us in implementing processes of change for our climate and Common Home. The Universal Apostolic Preferences identify joint actions as essential, and we would deeply appreciate learning about how others are engaging and discerning how we can work together. Those interested may support this statement and inform us of their climate strike activity/ies by visiting this link. “May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.” (Laudato Si’ 244)
Download the statement here.