Historic climate change agreement offers hope to our vulnerable neighbours

14 Dec 2015   |   Media release

Caritas Australia has welcomed the agreement by 196 countries, finalised in Paris on 12 December, to avoid catastrophic global warming.

Students in front of Parliament House in Canberra with their Hearts4Climate

The Paris agreement represents a new global consensus on the urgent need for action to keep warming well below 2 degrees and ideally be kept to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

“It is clear that the world has shifted,” notes Caritas Australia CEO Paul O’Callaghan. “Paris has shown us that there has been unprecedented momentum from investors and the business community who want to be part of the transition to low carbon economies.

“There’s also been an unprecedented global groundswell of individuals, organisations, faith groups, businesses, cities and even countries moving towards a clean energy future.”

“Australian politicians cannot afford to be left behind, and must commit to continually strengthen our nation’s response to avoid calamitous effects on our nearest neighbours,” Mr O’Callaghan says.

Mr O’Callaghan notes that Caritas Australia welcomes the government’s recent moves on climate, including backing the 1.5 degree global warming goal and, at home, reversing the ban on government investment in renewables.

“These are positive steps,” Mr O’Callaghan says. “However, to play its role in meeting the Paris commitments, Australia also needs to increase its emissions reductions targets and provide its responsible share of funding for climate adaptation in poorer and more vulnerable countries.”

He continues: “In part because of the strong voice of Pope Francis and in part because of the calls from our partners in countries such as Kiribati, Caritas Australia’s supporters are more aware than ever of the human and moral dimensions of climate change.”

Prior to the COP21 conference, Mr O’Callaghan met with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and took Catholic school students to meet with senior advisors to Malcolm Turnbull.

Caritas Australia is calling for the phase-out of coal-fired power in favour of renewables, and for new funding for climate adaptation for poorer countries, rather than simply diverting funds from the existing aid budget as was announced by the Australian government two weeks ago.

“Caritas Australia will continue to monitor policies in Australia and hold our government to account. At the same time, Caritas Internationalis members all over the world will be doing the same with their governments. The survival of our nearest neighbours demands that we stand in solidarity.”

Media contact: Angela Ford on 0408 869 833 or media@caritas.org.au

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