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YAOUNDÈ, Cameroon – African religious leaders have added their voice to the worldwide calls for an end to the use of fossil fuels to power economies.
In a petition to the ongoing COP26 in Glasgow, the faith leaders – including from the Catholic Church – described carbon-powered economy as an “outdated model” that needs to be consigned to the dustbin of history because it destroys “the very forests, waters, oceans and soils that make life possible.”
The faith leaders proposed that investments in renewable energies should be increased, so economies function with respect to the environment.
They called for an end to financing “agribusiness and extractive industries that immorally destroy tropical forests, its matchless biodiversity, and its Indigenous guardians,” and called for an enactment and enforcement of laws that “protect people and planet alike, in keeping with the inherent dignity of every human being and the world’s biodiversity.”
“Wealthiest countries must commit to reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and accelerate finance and technology transfers to poorer countries to ensure a global transition to zero before 2050,” the statement reads.
They promised to lead by examples-to be “models of environmental leadership, utilizing rituals, religious education, facilities, and the public voices of our spiritual leaders, members and followers, encouraging local circles of care and resilience in communities to participate in the transformation through education, organizing, advocacy and job training”.
“Each person carries a divine spark, unique gifts, and a moral responsibility to make one’s life a blessing for the Earth and all people,” the religious leaders stated.
And all of that put together has to do with what they called the vision of “a world transformed, in which humanity in all its diversity has developed a shared reverence for life on planet Earth.”
Signatories included Ghanian Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Integral Human Development, and Bishop Victor Phalana of the Diocese of Klerksdorp, South Africa
Dr. Richard Munang, the the Africa Regional Climate Change Coordinator at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), supported the call of the religious leaders, saying “making peace with nature is … a matter of collective survival.”
“As a global community, we either all survive the climate change apocalypse, or we all continue to suffer from its perils and eventually perish,” Munang told Crux.
He pointed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published in August which showed the world is likely to breach the 1.5℃ warming threshold set by the international community in just 2 decades.
Munang said this implies an escalation of climate risks globally, £whose costs are already at breaking point.”
“In 2020 alone, climate change induced disasters cost the global economy up to $210 billion. The latest headlines have painted the picture of these losses – from uncontrollable wild fires that even the richest countries in the world are unable to control, to deadly flooding in Europe that completely washed away buildings and cars, to the deadly hurricane in Louisiana in the U.S., to the record high temperatures in U.S. Pacific Northwest, that is ordinarily known for its cool climate, to the loss of ice in Arctic almost the size of the state of Florida in just one month, the writing is on the wall,” he said.
Munang also pointed to the fact that evidence shows Africa is already heating up twice as fast as the rest of the globe, leading to – in addition to other effects – a 20 percent decline in precipitation, a 20 percent increase in storm intensity, an 8 percent increase in arid and semi-arid lands, an up to 50 percent drop in rainfed agriculture potential.
“The dire socioeconomic consequences that were projected to occur by 2030, 2050, 2100; be it the GDP drop of up to 15 percent that was originally forecast to happen in 2030, and by 2050 – 85 percent by 2050, the 14 percent higher sea level rise, the 40 percent decline in yields in key staples that was projected to occur by 2050; and shrinkage of incomes by a whopping 75 percent that was projected to occur by 2100, will move much closer to the present,” he said.
“And with this, escalation of socioeconomic misery that is already at breaking point is guaranteed. Be it the 257 million people experiencing hunger; the over 12 million young people who need jobs every year amidst shrinking economies, the up to 60 million children that are malnourished and costing the continent between 1.9 percent and 16 percent of its GDP; among many.”
The petition presented to the COP26 included the participation over 425 Catholic organizations and 120,000 Catholics.