World Watch: Global Climate Momentum Builds

Momentum is building for ambitious action to counter climate change, both in the world community and within the Catholic Church.

New climate goals announced by President Joe Biden in March represent the United States’ recommitment to the Paris Climate Agreement. As the primary international effort to combat climate change, the agreement formalizes each nation’s pledge of action. These must be updated and resubmitted every five years.

The next international gathering organized by the United Nations to address climate change is set for this November. Originally scheduled for November 2020 but postponed due to the pandemic, the Conference of Parties, known as COP26, is expected to be held in Glasgow, Scotland. Pope Francis has been invited to attend.

Whether or not COP26 is held in person, climate activists are striving for the conference to become a turning point for climate action. Much is expected from the gathering, with anticipated announcements of new contributions from each participating nation, the United States’ return to the negotiating table and the international momentum to “build back better” from the COVID-19 crisis.

Adjacent to these international efforts, in May 2021, the Vatican officially launched the Laudato Si’ Action Platform inspired by the 2015 encyclical that accelerated the Church’s ecological conversion and work for environmental justice.

The seven-year plan will galvanize action on climate within the global Church. According to Cardinal Peter Turkson of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the project is designed “to do something concrete” in response to the growing message from scientists and youth activists that “we are destroying our future.”

The number “seven” was chosen to appear throughout the campaign due to its biblical significance. The Laudato Si’ Action Platform names seven goals and seven key sectors it hopes to influence. The goals are responding to the cry of the earth, responding to the cry of the poor, ecological economics, ecological spirituality, adopting sustainable lifestyles, investing in ecological education, and community engagement and participatory action.

The sectors include families, parishes and dioceses, schools and universities, health care institutions, economic actors (workers and employers), and religious orders and movements. The platform invites Catholics in each sector to prayerfully discern how they can best respond to the invitation of Laudato Si’ and make a seven-year action plan accordingly. The Vatican hopes the campaign will culminate in a year of celebration to mark the Church’s progress toward ecological conversion.

In his video announcement of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, Pope Francis said that although we are facing an “unprecedented ecological crisis … there is hope. We can all collaborate … so that our mother Earth may be restored to her original beauty and creation may once again shine according to God’s plan.”

Featured image: A municipal worker collects garbage on the shore in Jakarta, Indonesia, on World Oceans Day, designated by the United Nations for June 8. (CNS, Willy Kurniawan, Reuters)

FAITH IN ACTION:
• Watch Pope Francis’ five-minute video introducing the Laudato Si’ Action Platform:

• Explore the new Laudato Si’ Action Platform website, available in nine languages. Prayerfully discern with your faith community how you might get involved: https://laudatosiactionplatform.org/
• Read and share our series of two-pagers “Path to Paris” and “Path from Paris”: http://bit.ly/Path2ParisMOGC

The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, based in Washington, D.C., is a resource for Maryknoll on matters of peace, social justice and integrity of creation, and brings Maryknoll’s mission experience into U.S. policy discussions. Phone (202) 832-1780, visit www.maryknollogc.org or email ogc@maryknollogc.org

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Kathleen Kollman Birch

Kathleen Kollman Birch is communications manager for the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns.