In a time when the planet and the people are sick together, and ahead of the Climate Ambition Summit (12 December) and the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement, a bold call was launched for ambitious climate action in the high-level panel “Faith, Science, Youth - a call for an ambitious Climate Summit” organized by the Vatican Covid-19 Commission and its partners. The speakers reflected on the opportunities and challenges that the Covid-19 crisis brought, such as an undeniable need to shift the system.
As pointed out by Professor Schellnhuber (Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research), only a few countries are on track with the Paris Agreement commitments, but the urgency remains. Furthermore “We will not escape from global warming because of the emissions’ reductions from the corona measures. We have to do it in a systemic way, not in a crisis mode.” said the Professor.
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim (AFPAT, Chad) reflected on the importance of taking care of nature and the unique role the Indigenous have in this. She addressed a call to the political leaders, to the private sector, to the youth: “There is no sustainable business, no sustainable life, without sustainable nature. If we do not respect nature our health will be a big problem.” She stressed that it is crucial to act since “there is no vaccine for climate change”, and politicians should lead the change through their choices and examples. For instance, not enough funds have been directed to support climate change adaptation especially for the most vulnerable regions, whereas the pandemic has demonstrated that it is possible to mobilize many funds.
Cardinal Peter K. A. Turkson, (Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development), who also played a crucial role in the Vatican's engagement for climate justice so far, also reminded us of the urgency to change course, as outlined by the Encyclical Laudato Si’: “Unfortunately we do not come to this with a record that allows us to rejoice. We’re on a path to surpass 3 degrees [Celsius] of warming.” He also reflected on the way forward: “The crisis invites us to replan our journeys, to build new models. That is what the Holy Father invites us to with his call towards an ecological conversion.”
According to Chiara Martinelli from CIDSE, one of the main organisers of the webinar and member of the Vatican Covid-19 Commission – Integral Ecology Task Force (WG2), “The challenges of the pandemic cannot be used as an excuse for delay or dilution of climate action. Rather as an added imperative for transformational change, for raising ambitions and actions for a just and sustainable future at all levels. As individuals we can do our part to move towards a more sustainable way of living; governments, preparing for their announcements for Saturday, with their duty of care, hold specific responsibilities.”