Media CenterCRS Stands by Paris Agreement Five Years After its Signing

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Nikki Gamer
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(978) 884-0003

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, Dec. 11, 2020 – Bill O’Keefe, executive vice president for Mission, Mobilization and Advocacy at Catholic Relief Services (CRS), issued the following statement in recognition of the five-year anniversary of the signing of The Paris Agreement.

“When the world's leaders came together five years ago to sign the Paris Agreement, they demonstrated unprecedented cooperation and commitment toward addressing the climate crisis, arguably one of the most urgent issues of our time. As we reflect on the fifth anniversary, we acknowledge the invaluable role the agreement has played in pooling resources and creating a sense of unity around this global problem.

Yet while the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us what swift action can look like—the progress on addressing climate change is at risk of stalling. In our work in more than 100 countries, we've witnessed firsthand how the worsening impacts of climate change, from catastrophic storms to more frequent and prolonged droughts, are pushing vulnerable families to the brink. What’s more, it’s exacerbating poverty, conflict and unstable governance. Ironically, those suffering the most from climate change are contributing to it the least. The recent devastation wrought by Hurricanes Eta and Iota shows us just how deadly and destructive the impacts can be.

Yet we’re hopeful. In his latest encyclical Frattelli Tutti, Pope Francis writes, "Every one of us can play a valuable role if we all of us join this journey today. Not tomorrow, today. Because the future is constructed today, and it is not constructed alone, but in community and in harmony."    

While the pandemic is a human tragedy, it has already taught us a few lessons: the importance of early action, and that societal shifts can save lives. On climate change, we must act faster and more efficiently if we want to see meaningful change during our lifetime.

To address the injustices and inequalities further highlighted by the health and climate crises, we need to cultivate a culture of care, as put forth by Church leaders, including the Holy Father. This means taking better care of each other, as well as the environment.

As countries come together at the upcoming Climate Ambition Summit, we echo calls for increased ambition, especially regarding climate finance commitments to support the most vulnerable.

With the incoming Biden/Harris administration, we're hopeful that the United States will rejoin the agreement and affirm our shared responsibility to care for the planet.”


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Nikki Gamer

Senior Public Affairs Manager

Nikki Gamer
December 11, 2020

Based in Baltimore, MD

Nikki is the Senior Public Affairs Manager for CRS and connects journalists to regional stories and sources related to the agency’s life-saving development work. Previously, Nikki worked as the Communications Officer for the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia. She has covered CRS’ response to the Syrian refugee crisis and the mass displacement...More