CAFOD supporters, joined with supporters from SCIAF and Trocaire, took the Pope’s message on climate change to the heart of government, handing in a petition signed by 40,000 Catholics calling on David Cameron to show leadership at next week’s UN climate talks.
The petition, which is part of a global campaign supported by over a half a million Catholics across the world, is inspired by Pope Francis’ call in Laudato Si’ to care for the Earth, and to protect all of those suffering from extreme and unreliable weather intensified by climate change.
The petition was taken to Number 10 Downing Street seven days before world leaders meet to negotiate a binding deal to tackle climate change at the UN climate talks.
The global petition will be handed to Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, by members of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, who are travelling to Paris to be the voice of the Church at the UN talks.
Debate in the House of Commons
In response to the petition, MPs from all parties debated climate change and the Pope’s encyclical in the House of Commons on 19 November.
Attended by 20 MPs and a group of CAFOD supporters, there were calls for the government to take further steps to tackle climate change effectively in the UK and around the world by 2020.
Labour MP Caroline Flint mentioned the petition, having been contacted by a CAFOD supporter in her constituency. She said, “I recently received a copy of a CAFOD petition organised by Gillian McCallum, a constituent, on behalf of two parishes in Don Valley, Christ the King Church Rossington, and Holy Family, Finningley. It called on the Prime Minister to show leadership on climate change. I know they will be pleased that the House is taking note of the Pope’s encyclical today.”
In a highly unusual move, indicating the importance of the debate, Climate and Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, came to the House of Commons to respond. She said, “We are united as a country and as a House in wanting an ambitious, legally binding deal in Paris, with regular reviews and a long-term goal. Paris will not be the end but the moment when the world changes direction and kick-starts a revolution to a new kind of growth and development.”
Sarah Hagger-Holt, from CAFOD, said, “Pope Francis’ encyclical is creating waves of influence all over the world, inspiring Catholics to take action and call on their politicians to tackle climate change and poverty.
“From the heart of the government in the UK to world leaders at the UN, your passion and compassion is reaching those who can change the policies that make a difference to people living in poverty. Thank you for all you’ve done and for all you’re doing.”