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Caritas Urges UN Action on Climate Change

Upcoming Talks in Poland in December

Upcoming UN climate change talks in Poland this December will have to curb climate change for the coming decade and tackle its devastating effects on human life, ecosystems, food and water security, warns Caritas. The cost of increased disasters and hazards is now unbearable for communities already facing poverty.

The annual Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP, will meet for the 24th time from December 2-14, 2018, in the Polish city of Katowice.

Delegates are expecting to finalize the ‘Rule Book’ on the implementation of the Paris Agreement, adopted at COP21 in 2015 and providing a new framework for global action on climate change. One of its key articles sets the long-term target of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees centigrade and if possible below 1.5 degrees.

The October report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that current plans will see us reach 3 or 4 degrees within the lifetime of today’s children. Global warming higher than 1.5 degrees will result in irreversible changes. This could include the loss of ecosystems and increased extreme weather events. It is expected this report will significantly influence negotiations at COP24.

A Caritas Internationalis delegation will be at COP24 in Katowice. This will include staff from its Member organizations in France, Germany, Poland, Spain, the United States, and the UK.

Caritas calls on every government at the UN climate change talks to adopt more ambitious targets and replace fossil fuels with ecologically-sound sustainable renewable energy by 2050 at the latest. The Rule Book must also protect human rights and make national climate policies open to people’s participation.

“Every day, we witness the effects of the changing climate on poor and vulnerable people around the world. Equity, fairness and inter-generational justice must be guiding criteria for new climate policies,” said Adriana Opromolla, Food Security and Climate Change advocacy officer at Caritas Internationalis.

Pope Francis writes in his encyclical Laudato Si’ that “humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production, and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.”

Adaptation, mitigation, resilience, disaster preparedness, and disaster risk reduction are vital strategies. They deserve more genuine and reliable political and financial support. “Transformation is possible, but political will is needed to make it happen,” said Opromolla, who will be at the talks.

Developed countries have promised $100 billion a year collectively from 2020 through the Green Climate Fund. Katowice will be the moment for each government to show what its contribution will be and how the money will be delivered.

At the talks in 2017 the prime minister of Fiji, as COP president, introduced the Talanoa Dialogue for Climate Ambition, to be co-led by the incoming Polish presidency, opening up for grassroots participation. Many local Talanoa dialogues have taken place around the world over the year. Caritas says listening to people’s voices is essential to inspire sound decisions for the common good, in progress towards the 1.5 degrees long-term objective.

Caritas also says that the Katowice talks must frame agriculture policies so they can benefit small-scale farmers. These policies must ensure food security, healthy consumption, human well-being and care for the environment, including agro-ecological approaches.

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