Catholic Entity Urges World Leaders to Involve Global South in Climate Change Decisions

In 2011, Ethiopia experienced its worst drought for 50 years. Millions of livestock perished across the country, many of which were unable to find food or water in the bleached landscape of Borana zone, Ethiopia’s water-stressed southernmost region. Credit: Trócaire

An official of the overseas development agency of the Catholic Bishops of Ireland, Trócaire, has urged world leaders from developed countries to involve nations in the Global South in making decisions on issues of climate change.  

Trócaire Chief Executive Officer, Caoimhe de Barra, was responding to the recent report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that noted that it is no longer possible to avoid escalating climate change.

“This IPCC report is surely enough to prompt world leaders to act with the urgency that is required. We do not want to see a repeat of COP26 (the 26th United Nations Climate Conference) with poor participation of people from the Global South in decision-making, lack of firm commitments on key climate justice issues and a lack of solidarity,” Ms. de Barra says in a Monday, February 28 report.

She further indicates in the report that countries will have “to spend big” to protect their people, nature and economies.

The Trócaire CEO described the IPCC report as “a depressing and stark reminder of the disproportionate impact of climate change, with poorer countries who have contributed least to climate change suffering most.”


Ms de Barra says that the Global South region, which includes African countries bears the impact of climate change with about 98 percent of deaths emanating from climate breakdown.

“The global South is bearing the brunt of climate impacts, suffering more than 90 percent of the costs of climate change, and 98 percent of the deaths associated with climate breakdown,” she says in the February 28 report. 

The Trócaire official further says that there is need for world leaders especially from the Global North to act immediately saying that the whole world is now in an emergency state.

She says that the communities supported by Trócaire are in deep crisis and are the most affected by climate change and that richer countries need to consider channeling their climate finance to tackle issues related to climate change in affected countries.

“The communities we support are in crisis, experiencing drought, floods and heatwaves with devastating consequences on people’s ability to survive. Richer countries must pay their fair share of climate finance and respond to the loss and damages that people are enduring,” Ms Barra says.

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She advocates for corporate accountability especially from countries responsible for most carbon emissions that translate to climate change that affects mostly the Global South region.

“When you consider the fact that just 100 companies, including the largest oil, coal and gas companies, are responsible for 70 percent of all global carbon emissions to date, it is clear that we cannot address the climate crisis without also addressing the issue of corporate accountability,” Ms de Barra says. 

In his reflection about the IPCC report, Trócaire Country Director in Somalia, Paul Healy, said that there are experiences of human sufferings behind scientific reports and that the IPCC report is only highlighting what is already known on the ground.

“The IPCC report tells us what we already know and what we are seeing on the ground here in Somalia,” Mr. Healy said.

According to Trócaire officials, African countries are responsible for only 4 percent of global carbon emissions, yet they are the most affected by climate change.


The officials add, “Droughts in the Horn of Africa are becoming more frequent and severe, and are one of the main drivers of hunger across the region, forcing families from their homes and land.”

They say that Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe are some of the African countries that are experiencing food shortages resulting from prolonged droughts.

According to the officials of the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland, the African countries that do not often experience drought issues like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) experience storms and floods that lead to waterborne diseases such as cholera.

To salvage the Global South region including Africa from the impacts of climate change, Ms. de Barra advocates for introduction of laws aimed at reducing carbon emissions and that the laws should be in line with the Paris agreement.

“We need stronger rules to reign in the big fossil fuel companies. To do that we need our leaders to introduce new laws that will ensure corporations reduce their carbon emissions in line with the targets of the Paris agreement,” she says.

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Adopted December 2015 by 196 parties at the 21st United Nations Climate Conference (COP 21) in Paris, Paris agreement, the legally binding international treaty on climate change that was effected November 2016 aims at limiting global warming to preferably 1.5 degrees celsius as compared to pre-industrial levels.

Trócaire officials also advocate for fostering climate actions with principles of human rights, social justice and gender equality; and also the need for richer countries to agree to a “loss and damage” of finance facility.

The leadership of the Catholic entity is further calling on developed countries to take responsibility “to not only dramatically reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions”, but to also provide financing for countries and communities in the Global South who have done least to cause the climate crisis.

The leadership of Trócaire is also advocating for a scaling up of climate finance specifically to developed countries and says that the funds need to be aimed at what the leadership has referred to as “adaptation finance.”

The leadership of the Catholic agency reflected on the forthcoming EU Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence and says that the directive should embrace strong provisions aligned with the Paris agreement.

“There must be legally binding regulation of corporations and big business so they respect human rights and the environment – the forthcoming EU Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence should include strong provisions for corporations to act in line with the Paris Agreement,” the leadership of Trócaire says in the February 28 report. 

The leadership further says, “World leaders must act now to prevent the loss of millions of lives and human suffering due to the devastating consequences of climate change and climate inaction.”