Over 500,000 Catholics in 130 countries have signed the Catholic Climate Petition urging world leaders to take urgent action on climate change. Launched by the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) in April 2015, the petition was endorsed by Pope Francis in May giving it a unique status of being the only environmental petition to be endorsed by the Holy Father.
Since then other church leaders such as Cardinal Tagle and Cardinal Hummes and over 20 other individual bishops around the world have also added their endorsement, along with several bishops conferences.
The petition, addressed to world leaders, states: “Climate change affects everyone, but especially the poor and most vulnerable people among us. Inspired by Pope Francis and the Laudato Si’ encyclical, we call on you to drastically cut carbon emissions to keep the global temperature rise below the dangerous 1.5°C threshold, and to aid the world’s poorest in coping with climate change impacts.”
This is yet another example of how the “Francis effect” is stimulating eco-engagement by faith communities historically quiet in the climate debate. When this past summer Pope Francis released his encyclical on ecology, many Catholics worldwide took his message to heart and entered this new field of green activism.
In the document, the Holy Father calls for action which would “involve each of us as individuals, and also affect international policy.” (#15) Following this directive, the Global Catholic Climate Movement developed this petition with a goal of getting 1 million signatures.
The signatures of the Catholic Climate Petition will be delivered to world leaders at the Paris Climate Summit on November 28. Along with the Catholic Petition, several other groups, such as OurVoices which is a multi-faith organization will present petitions of their own.
In addition to the Christian faith, the Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist faith communities have released statements in support of Pope Francis’ encyclical calling for bold action on climate disruption. All of these actions point to the collaboration of the entire faith population joining the conversation on climate.