Photo credit: Rosie Heaton

From November 30 to December 12, COP 28 will take place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with the aim of accelerating action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. As Catholics, what else should we know about the climate change conference, and why should we care about this vital UN summit?

Why should Catholics care about COP28?

Catholics should care about COP28 because our faith demands that we care for and about God’s creation and the most vulnerable, both of which are being devastated by the destructive climate crisis.

Two of the core principles of Catholic Social Teaching are directly related to the climate crisis: the option for the poor and vulnerable and caring for God’s creation. The ecological crisis and climate emergency are destroying God’s creation and our poorest and most vulnerable sisters and brothers are hurting the most, despite having little to do with the greenhouse gas emissions causing the crises.

Saints and Popes have made this clear for centuries – literally centuries – that as Catholics and people of faith we must care for God’s creation. Way back in the 12th century, St. Hildegard of Bingen said, “The Earth sustains humanity. It must not be harmed; it must not be destroyed.” So caring for God’s creation is something that has been a crucial part of the Catholic faith for centuries.

Pope Francis has inspired Catholics everywhere with his encyclical Laudato Si’. The powerful document helped the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics better understand that “everything is connected” and put millennia of Catholic teaching in the context of today’s ecological crisis and climate emergency.

On a more practical, daily living basis, the climate crisis is affecting all of us in the form of warmer temperatures and more extreme weather, both of which scientists say are more common in a hotter planet Earth.

Scientists say that the severe weather events on a warmer planet – stronger hurricanes, more extreme droughts, and more heat waves, among others – will continue to happen and worsen the longer we keep producing greenhouse gas emissions, thereby warming our planet.

Why should young Catholics care about climate change and biodiversity?

This is their future. They are the leaders who can take this process to fruition. The reshaping of our energy systems and the creation of a more resilient and cleaner future will be a decades-long process that they are leading in some respects and will eventually lead entirely.

The climate crisis also will affect them more than anyone else. Their future, sadly, is set to be laden with more extreme weather events than any other generation’s. Their future is literally at stake.

Young people also have an opportunity to truly create a different future. They can decide the future they’re going to create and draw a line and say, no more fossil fuels, and then work tirelessly to create that future for our common home.

What can regular people do? 

Right now, they can sign the LSM petition to the COP. With Pope Francis’ participation in the COP, an unprecedented event, and the recent publication of Laudate Deum, Catholic support is essential.

The petition to Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber calls for accelerating the transition to clean energy and doing so fairly; committing to concrete and binding agreements; developing and implementing a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty; integrating the human and social dimension; avoiding delays; recognizing the interconnectedness of the crisis; and ensuring transparency, climate finance and monitoring.

The time is now. Sign the petition here.