They say that UK should take the lead in the global effort needed to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C.
The Jesuit leaders further urge the British Prime Minister to press for the inclusion of action on climate change into COVID-19 relief packages and social protection programs.
“COVID-19 has once again reminded us that the risks we face today increasingly have no respect for borders,” they say, and add, “While the pandemic is the ‘trans-border risk’ at the top of the global agenda at the moment, climate change and ecological degradation remain a clear and present danger to all of us.”
In their address to the summit President, the Church leaders say, “In the coming year, as host of COP26, you can be a vocal advocate for the environment, reminding world political and economic leaders that any and all COVID-19 relief packages must take account of climate change and include action to combat it.”
In the words of Pope Francis, the Jesuit leaders assert that everything is connected, and that “there are no purely social, environmental or economic crises that we face.”
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“Effectively combating COVID-19 and planning for the world that comes after the pandemic requires that climate change continues to have the attention of global policymakers,” they say.
Additionally, the Jesuits urge Boris Johnson to remind the leaders and peoples of the Global North that the burdens of climate change “fall disproportionately on the shoulders of the world’s poor and marginalized.”
“Together with Pope Francis, we want to remind you that it is the poorest and most vulnerable people who bear the brunt of climate change even though they have contributed least to this crisis,” they say.
In a separate letter to the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and the European Commission (EC), the Jesuit leaders in Africa and Europe call upon Europe, which they say belongs to the largest polluters to renew its commitment to support developing countries in financing climate action.
“At the COP 21 and the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa in July 2015, European countries pledged to support developing countries to finance climate action. Europe needs to renew this commitment,” they said.
The second letter was addressed to the AU President Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of the Council of the European Union, Angela Merkel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
The Jesuit leaders add, “There are significant justice issues at stake here and it is the duty of those countries whose development has contributed most to climate change to take the lead in marshalling the resources to combat it.”
Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.