G7 Summit is happening in in Cornwall, UK.
We are living in unprecedented times. United in solidarity with the most vulnerable, we Catholics and other people of faith implore you to seize the opportunity to build back better from coronavirus, uniting leading democracies to help to make the future fairer, greener and more prosperous. Urgent action is needed, in line with the science, for all of creation at this year’s G7 Summit in Cornwall, UK. Our common home and our common family are suffering. The COVID-19 crisis has been yet another alarming symptom of an ecological emergency. We have seen the devastating reality that humankind cannot be healthy on a sick planet.
The G7 has long been the catalyst for decisive international action to tackle the greatest challenges we face. The world has looked to the G7 to apply shared values and diplomatic might to create a more open and prosperous 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.”
One of the priorities of this G7 summit is “to create a stronger global health system that can protect us all from future pandemics.” Yet we know that it is our planet’s biodiversity, the vast ecosystems of our planet, which are our front line of defence when it comes to the prevention of epidemics and pandemics. We know that these ecosystems are unravelling due to human activity destroying habitats and driving species into spaces where they should not be. Biologists estimate that we are driving species to extinction at a rate of 100 to 1,000 times faster than without human influence. As well as a devastating biodiversity crisis, 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. As COVID-19 has made evident, none of us, rich or poor, are immune.
Tackling coronavirus has been the biggest shared endeavour of our lifetimes, and the global effort to develop new vaccines and treatments for coronavirus has shown what we can achieve by working together. However, we are well aware that at this critical moment, vaccine equity is not a reality. Richer countries are failing the biggest moral test of our generations. Getting vaccines rolled out quickly to the world’s poorest countries is a moral imperative. A failure to do so is extremely short-sighted economically, and ultimately will lead to further mutations threatening the efficacy of vaccines. A global roll out of vaccines is in everyone’s interests. More importantly, it is the right thing to do. Pope Francis has asked “government leaders, businesses, international organizations – to foster cooperation and not competition, and to seek a solution for everyone: vaccines for all, especially for the most vulnerable and needy of all regions of the planet. Before all others: the most vulnerable and needy!”
While “G7 health ministers pledge to combat future health threats by working together to identify early warning signs from animals and the environment”, protection of our world’s habitats and ecosystems are vital to ensure a healthy planet and a healthy people. 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).
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 G7 to:
- Explicitly recognize human induced climate change and biodiversity as part of one and the same human induced 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 shift national and global commitments in order to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and a new global goal of 50% conservation of lands and all waters, restoration and sustainable management of all the rest of land and water bodies protection of nature to ensure no more biodiversity loss, and restoration and sustainable management of the rest.
To achieve this all Governments must:
- Update national targets on climate action and biodiversity action that reflect their fair share of the global effort to deliver on the agreed 1.5 degree Celsius limit to warming, and of a new global goal of 50% protection of nature.
- Stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure and redirect destructive subsidies towards socially responsive renewable energy and ecological agriculture.
- Reaffirm and respect obligations to protect and respect human rights, including in particular the rights of Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities in climate and biodiversity action.
- Ensure equitable global action and reform of the international financial and economic system to orient it towards a safe and healthy development path, including cancellation of debt and provision of adequate financial support to enable those most affected to adapt to the impacts. Systems must be put in place to ensure a just transition into a safe and healthy development pathway that does not evolve into technological colonialism.
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.”