More Asian bishops sign climate petition

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(Photo courtesy of RCAM)

MANILA, Sept. 18, 2015–More Catholic Church leaders in Asia have supported a petition to pressure world leaders to address climate change.

Caritas Internationalis President Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and other Filipino bishops, priests and religious led the campaign by launching the Catholic climate petition in Manila last July.

“We are delighted to see East Asian bishops and Cardinal Oscar Gracias support the Global Catholic Climate Change Movement (GCCM) petition,” said Lou Arsenio, local coordinator of GCCM.

She said their support adds to the support of Cardinal Tagle and over 1,000 priests, religious and lay leaders in Manila that signed the petition.

Arsenio said the show of support was made at a recent seminar on climate change for members of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) held in Hong Kong.

The petition will be handed to world leaders at the Paris climate summit in November, asking them to adopt a strong and ambitious universal climate treaty to keep global average temperatures within 1.5°C of pre-industrial levels.

Cardinal Gracias currently heads the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and the FABC.

Tomas Insua, co-founder and GCCM coordinator, said other bishops supporting the petition are from South America, Canada and Africa.

The petition was endorsed by Pope Francis in May 2015.

“We aim to get many more bishops from all over the world to sign the petition and show their support,” he said.

According to Ciara Shannon, also a GCCM co-founder and Asia Coordinator for OurVoices, Asia Pacific is at “serious risk” of climate change.

And with the double impact of El Niño, she said that more funding is needed to support projects that will promote adaptation and resilience to climate change.

She said that the global nature of the climate crisis demands a global response of spiritual, financial and political action.

“We are very encouraged to see the support of East Asian bishops to the GCCM petition,” Shannon said.

In the Philippines, church leaders have promised to deliver half of the 20 million signatures that the petition seeks.

Cardinal Tagle again encouraged the Filipinos to take action and signed the petition.

The FABC voiced concern that Asia is at serious risk of climate change and this year there has been a series of unusual weather disturbances across Asia including: deadly heat waves in India and Pakistan, widespread drought in Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, and water rationing in Thailand.

Climate scientists have confirmed that these extremes this year are compounded by an emerging period of El Niño, a periodic weather phenomenon characterized by warming ocean temperatures.

The GCCM said El Niño is expected to last well into 2016 leading to energy, food and water insecurity.

It added that Asian countries need to take measures to mitigate and adapt their impact–especially for the poor and for coastal areas that may have weak infrastructure.

While the effects of El Niño are global and widespread, according to the group, it is hitting Asian countries the hardest

The double impact of climate change and El Nino will also increase sea-level rise, storm surge, flooding and drought and many cities globally are at threat, the GCCM said.

In 2010, world leaders agreed on the operationalization of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to help finance adaptation and mitigation and a 2020 goal of raising US$100 billion was decided upon.

So far, the money has been slow in coming and the GCCM is very concerned about the lack of financing coming into the Green Climate Fund as world leaders are urged to raise the money promised in 2010. (CBCPNews)

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