Catholic aid agencies launch climate change campaign

 170 Catholic groups have called on the UN Climate Summit in Poznan, Poland to take responsibility for urgent climate change action reflecting the needs of the poor and developing nations.

ReliefWeb reports that bishops and representatives of more than 170 Catholic groups were gathering on Sunday, at the site of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks in Poznan, to launch a worldwide campaign on climate change demanding urgent action.

The campaign is spearheaded by Caritas Internationalis and CIDSE, an alliance of Catholic development organisations.

"Communities in the developing world have been hardest hit by climate change, despite doing least to cause it. We have a moral obligation to make sure countries receive the financial and technical assistance they need to adapt to climate change and to build better lives and livelihoods for their people." said René Grotenhuis, president of CIDSE.

More than 80 Bishops from around the world addressed a letter to the negotiating governments calling for solidarity with the world's poorest and for swift, sustained action on climate change by industrialised countries.

Bishop Theotonius Gomes, President of Caritas Bangladesh, said: "People in countries such as Bangladesh are totally dependent on the weather. Our agriculture, and hence our whole culture, is based on water from the rains and rivers. Changed rainfall patterns, harsher storms and longer droughts are already costing lives and livelihoods."

"We have seen a rapid increase in the need for relief efforts and emergency food supplies over the past few years. It is estimated that within the next 10 years there will be 200 million climate refugees, of which 25 percent, 50 million, is estimated to be from Bangladesh."

Industrialised countries are responsible for 70 percent of carbon dioxide emitted since the start of the industrial era. Developing countries have the least capacity to cope and are most vulnerable to changes in weather patterns, catastrophic storms and other effects of climate change.

"Billions of dollars are being made available to alleviate pressure on financial markets. This is important, but we must not forget that if we fail to address climate change now, the price to be paid in the years to come will be of a human and financial scale we cannot yet comprehend," said René Grotenhuis.

The campaign will bring together hundreds of thousands of Catholics to call on their governments to negotiate a socially just post 2012 climate agreement.

This should include the provision by industrialised countries of sufficient and secure support for developing countries to help them adapt to the impacts of climate change, the Catholic organisations argue. They also call a commitment by these countries to at least a 30-40 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, based on 1990 levels,

Source: Caritas/ReliefWeb

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