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Bishops from around the world plead for climate change action

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumba sings the appeal (CNS)

The presidents of bishops’ conferences across the world have called on government leaders to reach a “fair, legally binding and truly transformational climate agreement” at a summit in Paris.

At a press conference at the Vatican Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai said the appeal was a response to Pope Francis’s letter on the environment and an expression of “the anxiety of all the people, all the Churches all over the world” regarding how, “unless we are careful and prudent, we are heading for disaster”.

The appeal is addressed to negotiators preparing for the UN climate change conference in Paris at the end of November. The bishops called for “courageous and imaginative political leadership” and for legal frameworks that “clearly establish boundaries and ensure the protection of the ecosystem”.

The bishops also asked governments to acknowledge the “ethical and moral dimensions of climate change”, to recognise that the climate and the atmosphere were common goods belonging to all, to set a strong limit on global temperature increase and to promote new models of development and lifestyles that are “climate compatible”.

The appeal calls for decisions that place people above profits, that involve the poor in decision making, that protect people’s access to water and to land, are particularly mindful of vulnerable communities and are specific in commitments to finance mitigation efforts.

At the press briefing Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami said people in the US were starting to understand how important action was. It had been slow because “we live in a little bit of a cocoon sometimes, and if it doesn’t affect us immediately, we don’t react,” he said.