COP-27: African Church leaders call for climate justice

Senior African Church leaders and Catholic organisations concerned about climate change meet in Sharm El Sheikh on the side-lines of COP-27 to pray and discern practical actions to advocate for climate justice.

By Lisa Zengarini

As the COP-27 is still underway in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, with negotiations in full swing on key issues such as mitigation, adaptation and climate finance, African Church leaders and Catholic organizations have added their voices asking for a compensation mechanism for the loss and damage already caused to developing nations by climate change.

They made this point during a joint meeting in the Egyptian city at the end of the first week of the UN Climate Conference, which is expected to deliver tangible action plans to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote resilience, and provide funding to developing countries for both climate adaptation and loss and damage already occurring as a result of climate change.  

The summit is taking place against a backdrop of extreme weather events worldwide, an energy crisis propelled by the war in Ukraine, and scientific data reiterating that the world is not doing enough to tackle carbon emissions and protect the future of our planet.

A deal at COP27 must include finance for Loss & Damage

Speaking at the Catholic gathering which  was held in the Parish of Our Lady of Peace in Sharm El Sheikh, Cardinal Ambongo of Kinshasa, Vice-President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and President of its Justice, Peace and Development Commission, noted that  “Climate change is a lived reality for millions of people across Africa” and stressed that ”A deal at COP27 must include finance for Loss & Damage, which is compensation for countries who are already suffering from climate impacts but are not responsible for causing it”.  

Climate change already affecting access to food in poor coutries

His words were echoed by Musamba Mubanga, Senior Advocacy Officer at Caritas Internationalis, who remarked that “Caritas members across the world are already seeing the devastating impact that the climate crisis is having on access to food in already hungry parts of the world”.

Participants at the meeting had the opportunity to discuss topics such  as climate finance, food security, forced migration, and the contentious “Loss and Damage” issue, which has been advocated for years by faith-based organizations and added at the last moment on the agenda of negotiators for the first time since the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in 1992.

Furthermore, attendees reflected on the process of the African Climate Dialogues, an initiative that brought together Church and civil society actors and partners, including communities and religious leaders from across the African continent and European organisations to share African realities of the climate crisis. These dialogues resulted in a communiqué that includes key messages gathered throughout the five sessions that took place between July and September of this year.

Climate crisis an issue of justice and peace 

Participants emphasized the moral duty of richer nations who are responsible for the climate crisis to establish a compensation mechanism for the vulnerable nations and youths.

“The climate crisis is fundamentally an issue of justice and peace. There can be no peace if polluters continue to profit from climate destruction whilst the people suffer, and there can be no justice without promotion of peace-led solutions to climate change”, said Ben Wilson, Partner Advocacy Officer  the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) and member of the African Climate Dialogues Steering Committee.

COP27 must agree to a package of action which gets finance to people who urgently need it on the frontlines of this emergency”.  

Young people especially in Africa hit hardest by climate change impacts

David Munene, Programme Manager at the Catholic Youth Network on Environmental Sustainability in Africa (CYNESA) also pointed out the need to involve young people in the decision-making process on this crucial issue.

”Young people especially in Africa are being hit hardest by the detrimental effects of Loss and Damage, yet they are not responsible for their stolen future”, he said.

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15 November 2022, 16:25