By Paschal Norbert
NAIROBI, OCTOBER 13, 2023 (CISA)- Ahead of the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Dubai beginning in late November, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) is calling for ambitious outcomes in securing sustainable development at the global climate meeting.
“As Catholic communities in Africa, we ask the leaders at the 28th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 28), to recognize their moral duty and commit to urgently taking ambitious action to protect our common home and the most vulnerable,” said SECAM in a statement delivered on October 12 at the Faith and the Future webinar: Empowering Environmental Stewardship through the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty (FFNPT) organized by Laudato Si Movement alongside Faith for Earth Initiative.
Citing the African Leaders Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change and Call to Action, SECAM said Africa possesses both the potential and ambition to be a vital component of the global solution to climate change.
“It is home to the world’s youngest and fastest-growing workforce, coupled with massive untapped renewable energy potential, abundant natural assets and entrepreneurial spirit, our continent has the fundamentals to pioneer a climate-positive pathway as a thriving, cost-competitive industrial hub with the capacity to support other regions in achieving their net zero ambitions,” said SECAM.
“Against this backdrop, Africa is experiencing exacerbated climate change and biodiversity impacts with health and security already at risk due to extreme weather conditions, rising sea levels, and other climate change-induced challenges,” it noted.
The continental body that brings together all Catholic Bishops in Africa said they welcome Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Laudate Deum, a follow-up to the encyclical Laudato Si, as it “illustrates the global social issues of climate change and echoes the obvious nature of climate change impacts.”
Calling for an urgent response to tackle the climate crisis as enshrined in Laudate Deum (LD, No. 56), SECAM advanced “We must move beyond the mentality of appearing to be concerned but not having the courage needed to produce substantial changes.”
“We know that at this pace in just a few years, we will surpass the maximum recommended limit of 1.5° C and shortly thereafter even reach 3° C, with a high risk of arriving at a critical point. Even if we do not reach this point of no return, it is certain that the consequences would be disastrous and precipitous measures would have to be taken, at enormous cost and with grave and intolerable economic and social effects. Although the measures that we can take now are costly, the cost will be all the more burdensome the longer we wait,” (LD, No.56).
SECAM says on December 3 in line with the COP 28 theme of the day ‘Health/Relief, Recovery and Peace’, they are appealing to “the leaders to ensure that they listen to the plight of the earth and of the most vulnerable by phasing out fossil fuels, endorsing and adopting the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
“We call on them to tackle both climate change and biodiversity loss together as they are inextricably linked. Biodiversity is collapsing in front of our very eyes, with disastrous consequences for us all and future generations. We need to protect Africa and the rights of indigenous peoples, in particular, must be uplifted, as they are the best guardians of our common home,” said SECAM.
Adding, “economic policies must prioritize efforts to accelerate emission reductions through just transition processes and operationalize the loss and damage fund ensuring that they are aligned with the bold goal to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C.”
The new Apostolic Exhortation by Pope Francis, Laudate Deum, to all people of goodwill on the climate crisis, released on October 4, 2023, is a document intended to follow up on the pope’s 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home.
COP28 will be held at Expo City, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from November 30 to December 12, 2023.