COP26: the Pope’s call for ecological conversion based on the common good


Nicholas Fitzpatrick from the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development talks about the contribution of Pope Francis and other religious leaders to the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26.

By Linda Bordoni

Nicholas Fitzpatrick, socio-ecological economist and Ph.D. works with the team supporting and informing the Holy See delegation to COP26. candidate at Nova University in Lisbon. He is currently collaborating with the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development and explains that the Dicastery team is going to Glasgow following the October 4 meeting in which Pope Francis and other religious signed an appeal. joint calling on the signatory countries of COP26 to propose concrete solutions to save the planet from an “unprecedented ecological crisis“.

3 main points

This appeal and a series of documents produced under these circumstances reveal what the Vatican and other religions expect or hope for, Fitzpatrick explained, summarizing those expectations in three main points:

The first, he said: “We must maintain a vision of the targets of 1.5 ° C, which is written in the Paris Agreement, art. 2.2, against 2 ° C which is the upper limit ”, and we know that every tenth of a degree counts.

“The second is that in the Paris Agreement, there is an obligation of high-income nations (…), they must provide funding and help low-to-middle-income countries in their ecological transition,” he said. he explained, adding that this could include access to technology, sharing of knowledge or expertise, nationally and internationally.

Listen to the interview with Nicholas Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick said it is also recognized that “historical responsibility plays a big role in climate degradation: since 1850, 92% of global greenhouse gas emissions have been caused by high-income countries, of which 40 % are from the United States, 29% are from the United States. of the member states of the European Union, around 10% come from the rest of the European countries, with the remainder coming from other high-income countries such as Japan and Australia. So, he added, if we really want to talk about justice and sustainability, “these countries have to repair their ecological damage.”

He noted that Pope Francis recognizes and often calls for the need to repay this ecological debt: “He is partly referring to this carbon debt in the form of emissions”, but he says it also has to do with “the debts. of resources, climate debts, and climate debts.

The last point, he said, is that in all of this “We must ensure a just ecological transition”, and in order to do that, we must end the use of fossil fuels, never forgetting that the jobs of many people depend on fossil fuels and their associated industries.

While the ultimate goal is to end the use of fossil fuels, he said, a just ecological transition also means offering alternative options to those whose livelihoods may be threatened.

The solution cannot be “business as usual”

Responding to a question about how realistic this goal is, Fitzpatrick said we really need to understand that “the only unrealistic solution is the status quo.”

He explained that we know that we know that current industrial trends have exacerbated inequalities within and between countries, and that emissions have increased steadily despite heightened awareness at the institutional level when in 1990 the Panel of Experts Intergovernmental Council on Climate Change (IPCC) published its first assessment report, and in 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – which is the organizing body of COP26 – was created.

Since then, he said, emissions have actually increased by 60%, but if you look at the absolute, emissions have actually quadrupled. This highlights the fact that international conventions such as COPs have not historically been places where “international goals and emission reductions have come true”, but they are where “power and politics come together. “.

Integral ecology

The hoped-for agreement in Glasgow is based on the crucial Paris agreement of 2015. During this conference, Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato sì, On care for our common home provided food for thought and moral and ethical guidelines. Fitzpatrick expressed his belief that the moral authority of the pope, as well as the voices of faith groups and other religious leaders, are crucial:

“We have to build a narrative that encompasses many different horizons, and we have to move towards one target and that is integral ecology.”

He reiterated that we have had the scientific facts on climate change and global warming for decades now, is it pretty obvious that they are not enough, because if they were and “you and me we care about justice and sustainability, we would considerably reduce our consumption: we would abandon the plane, we would no longer eat meat, we would no longer have a car … it is therefore obvious that this moral component, which plays a big role in the lives of many people around the world, in order to achieve just and equitable transitions ”and achieve social justice.

Fitzpatrick also agreed that the Pope’s constant reminder that everything is interconnected and no one is saved alone is fundamental, demonstrating the need for environmental justice and “that we cannot deal with sustainability from an ecological perspective. forgetting the integral human perspective ”.

“Behind all this talk about sustainability is people and social justice, so every solution and discussion we have has to center on that,” he said.

Finally, Fitzpatrick said he was “optimistic” about the end result of the process because the solutions will come from ordinary people coming together in this “ecological conversion” advocated by Pope Francis and the development of Laudato sì action platform and other such projects.

“Social change tends to come from below, so it’s about inspiring others, coming together and developing solutions as a community, (…) that’s why I think the Pope Francis invites everyone of good will when he talks about conversions in the face of the climate crisis. “

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