By Lindlyn Moma, Director of Advocacy at Laudato Si’ Movement
I was zealous. I boarded a plane to travel to Sharm el Sheik for COP27. I secured three screenings of The Letter: one at the Senegalese government pavilion to lift the voices of the poor, another at the Climate Action Registry pavilion to raise the voice of science, and a last one at the Climate Innovation Stage to lift the voice of the youth. I wanted COP27 negotiators to hear all of these voices. These voices are necessary to reach an agreement that will take the world a step closer to mitigating the climate crisis and increase adaptation to the loss and damage we are already witnessing.
I left COP27 celebrating the success of these screenings. Cardinal Ambongo (Vice President of SECAM) and Archbishop Nicolas Henry Marie Denis Thévenin (Nuncio of the Vatican to Egypt) even emphasized that climate change mitigation within the energy crisis should remain top of the agenda.
Yet The Letter and the message of Pope Francis did not reach the hearts of negotiators. If it had transformed their hearts, the final agreement would illustrate significant progress on mitigation efforts rather than repeating the insufficient and broken commitments of COP26. While negotiators noted concerns around nationally determined contributions (NDCs), they declared little in their concluding statements beyond a faint encouragement to revisit NDCs next year. Once again, negotiators at COP27 did not deal with the heart of the matter of the climate crisis.
“The failure of global summits on the environment makes it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance. There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so their plans will not be affected.” (LS 54)
We celebrate small steps, such as establishing a work programme on a just transition and an agreement on loss and damage. We celebrate the many open dialogues, exhibitions, various side meetings and protest marches pointing to The Letter and Laudato Si, which we fiercely organized. Yet six hundred oil executives flooded COP 27 to make their mark on their financial interests. In light of this, I ask myself “Did we, people of faith, make our mark?”
“I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concerns and affects us all”. (LS 14).
Our prophetic voice must continue. Join the conversation to deal with our continued reliance on fossil fuels, which are the human roots of the climate crisis. Take the next step to encourage your local Catholic institutions to divest from fossil fuels. Sign the treaty to bring us closer to a fossil fuel transition. Mobilize your community to watch the film The Letter to inspire more action.