Our common home and common family are suffering. The climate emergency is causing rising seas, a warmer planet, and more extreme weather. It’s devastating the lives of our poorest sisters and brothers. At the same time, biologists estimate that we’re driving species to extinction at a rate of 100 to 1,000 times their usual rate. “We have no such right” (Laudato Si’ 33).
To: Political leaders participating in COP15 and COP26
From: [Your Name]
The ‘Healthy Planet, Healthy People’ Petition
Dear COP15 President Li Ganjie, COP26 President Alok Sharma, and all political leaders participating in COP15 and COP26,
United in solidarity with the most vulnerable, we Catholics and other people of faith implore you to take urgent action in line with the science for all of creation at this year’s COP15 and COP26.
Our common home and our common family are suffering. The COVID-19 crisis has been yet another alarming symptom of an ecological emergency. Humankind cannot be healthy on a sick planet.
At the Earth Day Summit in April, Pope Francis said "We know that one does not emerge from a crisis the same: We emerge either better or worse... We need to ensure that the environment is cleaner, purer and that it is conserved. We must care for nature so that nature may care for us."
Our planet’s biodiversity is disintegrating at the hands of humans. Biologists estimate that we are driving species to extinction at a rate of up to 1,000 times faster than without human influence. In parallel, the worsening climate crisis is causing rising sea levels and more extreme weather, devastating lives and livelihoods. This interconnected crisis is impacting most adversely on our poorest sisters and brothers across the planet who have done least to cause it. But none of us, rich or poor, are immune.
The climate crisis and biodiversity collapse are twin crises. A warming world is exacerbating the spiraling loss of blameless species. And further loss of nature will jeopardize our capacity to
deliver on the 1.5 degree limit to global warming. We are hurtling towards a global catastrophe, one that looks to be irreversible for our common home, with tragic loss of life across all creation -
unless we act now with great urgency.
Acting in line with the best available science on both the climate and biodiversity crises is fundamental for human and planetary health and survival. We must also open our hearts, believers and non-believers alike, to the right of all species to exist. All life, human and other than human, holds intrinsic value. Their right to thrive is not dependent on serving humanity, but is a way to give glory to the Creator.
Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence and numerous national declarations of climate and ecological emergencies, world leaders have yet to act commensurate with the scientific and moral urgency. We must grieve for lives and life lost, and we must do better. As a faith community, we know “that there is always a way out, that we can always redirect our steps” (Laudato Si’ 61). We must recognise that Indigenous peoples and local communities are at the center of protecting nature, and we must support them. “When they remain on their land, they themselves care for it best” (LS 146).
We urge you, leaders, at the two COPs, and at the G7 and G20, to:
Explicitly recognize human-induced climate change and biodiversity as part of one and the same crisis. Acknowledge the need for ambitious, integrated, and transformative action that responds to both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.
Urgently affirm the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and to a new biodiversity global goal of 50% conservation of lands and waters, and restoration and sustainable
management of all the rest of land and water bodies to ensure no more biodiversity loss.
Recognize the ecological debt of high income nations and agree to reform the financial system and cancellation of debt, so that all countries can restart economies that work for all peoples and the planet.
To achieve this all Governments must:
With Pope Francis leading us, we pray that you and all political leaders throughout the world, who are tasked with the duty to make life-saving decisions in this critical year, will bring us out better from the COVID-19 crisis towards an equitable common home for all life, for generations to come.
As Pope Francis said to world leaders at the Earth Day Summit in April, “we have the means to rise up to the challenge…It is time to act.”