Media CenterCRS Responds to Pope Francis' Encyclical, Laudato Si'
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Catholic Relief Services
BALTIMORE, MD, June 24, 2015 – In response to Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si', Catholic Relief Services (CRS) released two policy statements which address mitigating the causes of climate change and adapting to its often devastating effects on people around the world –- particularly the world’s poor and vulnerable.
Both statements call for the United States to play a leadership role in addressing this critical issue, which is already impacting millions of people CRS assists around the world.
To mitigate climate change, the first policy statement calls on the United States to “exercise… global leadership to achieve a legally binding, transparent and accountable global climate change treaty.” As the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases and premier economic and political power, the United States has a critical role to play at the December 2015 Climate Summit in Paris. An agreement in Paris is urgently needed as an expression of solidarity with those suffering now and an acknowledgment of our moral responsibility to future generations.
“The Obama administration can catalyze action by playing a highly visible role, convincing the international community of the United States' commitment and ability to ratify the agreement, and encouraging ambitious commitments from other nations,” the document states.
The paper further calls for the United States to develop a clear and transparent road map toward the stated goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% by 2025.
In a second policy statement, CRS addresses the need to support people in developing nations to adapt to the effects of climate change. “As Pope Francis so eloquently stated, we do not have separate problems of environmental degradation and poverty, but a single complex social and environmental crisis,” said Lori Pearson, senior policy advisor at CRS.
The statement on adaptation calls for US leadership in addressing that crisis, including through increased climate finance to support the needs of the 3 billion people most at risk to the effects of climate change. The statement calls on the US to fulfill its promise of $3 billion over 4 years to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF is a newly established global institution designed to support both adaptation and mitigation in developing countries – countries with limited financial and technical capacity to address a problem which they did little to create.
CRS is already witnessing the negative effects of climate change on the vulnerable populations we serve in our work overseas – particularly on smallholder farmers who feed most of the world’s population. “Over the last decade, we have had to adjust our programming to address the increasing effects of climate change in the communities where we work,” the paper states.
“Poverty and injustice exacerbate the effects of a changing climate in these poor communities,” the paper notes. Food security is a primary concern. Poor farmers are often farming on already degraded land, which is less resilient and able to compensate in the face of flood or drought. Shifting rainfall patterns, droughts and floods, as well as higher temperatures increase the vulnerability of these farmers. All of these changes are contributing to reduced crop yields and a rise in the number of pests, affecting both crop and human health. Unaddressed, climate change will ultimately affect global food security.
The policy statements call for urgent action and financial support, with attention to “people centered” approaches which adhere to principles of transparency, accountability, local ownership and participation of civil society.