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Thinking globally, acting locally for climate justice in COP26

Thinking globally, acting locally for climate justice in COP26

Nicholas Napolitano

Buoyed by the prayers of the choir of saints in heaven and showing pathways forward from people on the ground (and where politicians have failed), community assemblies from 100 different locations around the world gathered virtually on 1 November for the  Global Citizens’ Assembly for COP26 and shared their contributions to climate solutions through the People’s Declaration for the Sustainable Future of Planet Earth.

I listened to delegates virtually through the COP26 YouTube channel from my family’s home in the Bronx, nodding along at the ideas shared by neighbors in our common home as translators and technology helped us overcome the language and geographic barriers that divide us.

The ideas shared were not new, but they affirmed the work of parishioners, students, educators, and Jesuits across the East coast that I have been supporting in my justice and ecology work for the USA East Province.

A participant from Thailand emphasized the education and consciousness-raising needed around the world to help create the ecological conversion in individuals to respond to the climate crisis. Access to education is far from equal around the globe and this is what the work of Magis Americas has emphasized.

A participant from Europe raised concerns about ecology and economics, challenging us to invest financial and intellectual resources toward solutions that currently exist.

A participant from China reminded us that the Paris agreement needs to be implemented with equity and justice, recognizing that different regions and countries are at different starting points, and because of that, have different responsibilities to reduce carbon emissions because. It is a reminder that the global community needs to help the most vulnerable communities adapt and that hearing the voices of the poor and marginalized helps focus our responses.

Listening to these points of agreement from participants of the Global Citizens’ Assembly – who felt a greater sense of urgency and consolation in their climate work from talking to collaborators around the world – was a welcome departure from the inability of politicians to find consensus that prevents the international community from taking coordinated global action required to avert a climate crisis.

Five young people began a hunger strike for climate action on 20 October 2021 outside the White house, demanding the “Biden Administration to pass a bill that meets the full scope of the climate crisis, fully funds a Civilian Conservation Corps, transitions to 100% clean energy, and directs 40% of climate and clean energy investments to frontline communities.” [Ignatian Solidarity Network] Image from Sunrise Movement via the Ignatian Solidarity Network

In the US, as COP26 got underway in Glasgow, Scotland, the youth continued a fast  in front of the White House to urge the US Administration and Congress to pass a budget reconciliation bill that contains significant funding to finance a national transition towards carbon neutrality.

The Catholic Climate Covenant and Ignatian Solidarity Network gathered Catholics across the country to lift up our voices to call for climate action through solidarity fasts, legislative advocacy and a prayer vigil. Nearly 300 Catholics, grounded in prayer and steadfast hope, stressed the urgency to preserve our common home, a call to action that will echo long after the COP 26 delegates return home from Glasgow.

Nicholas “Nick” Napolitano is the Assistant for Justice and Ecology at the USA East Province of the Society of Jesus and can be reached at [email protected]. Nick is also a member of the virtual Ecojesuit COP26 delegation.

This story is also available in Spanish and French.

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