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Ecojesuit statement supporting the Global Climate Strike

31 July 2019

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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. As such, Ecojesuit strongly supports the Global Climate Strike  activities from 20 to 27 September 2019.

In June this year, Pope Francis declared a climate emergency  in front of over a dozen 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.”

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, as it is happening in parallel with the UN General Assembly from 17 to 30 September, where representatives of communities, civil society, governments, and businesses from around the world will convene for the Climate Action Summit  on 23 September, followed by 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 23 to August, Asia-Pacific Climate Week in Bangkok, Thailand from 2 to 6 September.

Jesuit education 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 climate strike. Climate action need not always begin on the streets; it can begin in the classroom and at home.

For those of us who are already engaged, the lead-up to the Global Climate Strike is also a good time to reflect on our commitments and discern how we can take further action. In this, the Universal Apostolic Preferences  identify collaboration with others as essential and some of us are already heeding this call.

For example, Jesuits are consistently involved in the annual UN Climate Change Conference (COP), beginning all the way back during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. This interest continues in the present, and we look forward to COP25  in Chile this December. More recently in July, a Jesuit/Ignatian delegation participated in the UN High-level Political Forum  in New York for the very first time, where progress on the SDGs were reviewed that included SDG 13  on Climate Action.

We also highly value the works of the Global Catholic Climate Movement  for their campaigns for climate justice and facilitation of yearly Catholic Divest-Reinvest announcements where over 130 Catholic institutions announced they are stepping away from fossil fuels.

Though the challenges before us are great, we are confident that we can overcome this climate emergency. 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.

The scientific facts suggest a bleak future but we find strength in solidarity and through the Holy Spirit. As Pope Francis reminds us, “Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope” (Laudato Si’ 244).

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