Frontline Survivors and Climate Pilgrims Urge for Climate Ambition

8 December 2018

Climate change is a matter of science and facts, not beliefs or opinions. The science is clear and the facts linked to climate change – like typhoons and droughts – have been so devastating that both secular and faith communities take up their stand to urge political leaders for ambitious climate action.

ECO highlights that after over two months of walking from the Vatican through seven countries, the Climate Pilgrimage participants have arrived in Katowice to call on the Parties at COP24 to respond to the recent IPCC report and take ambitious action to keep global warming to 1.5°C, in accordance with the Paris Agreement. Simultaneously, an Ecumenical Climate Pilgrimage from Bonn, has arrived in Katowice, also calling for bold action.

The Climate Pilgrimage consists of pilgrims from Asia, the Pacific countries, America and Europe, who have walked 1,500 km (nearly 950 miles) to draw the world’s attention to the dire effects of climate change already affecting their homes. For these pilgrims, climate justice is a personal matter. Some of the pilgrims are survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, a storm linked to climate change that killed over 6,000 people in South East Asia. One of them, AG Saño, dug the bodies of 72 of his neighbours from rubble in the wake of the storm while his brother, Yeb Saño, led the Philippines” delegation to COP19 in Warsaw.

The pilgrims started their inspiring journey at the Vatican on October 4, and almost each day they engaged in climate change-related workshops and meetings with local communities, students, media, mayors and top- level decision makers. In Vienna, the pilgrims met Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen. Van der Bellen has recently launched an initiative for more climate ambition, co- signed by 14 European Heads of State (including Germany, France and Italy) and the prime ministers of the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark and Sweden. In Poland, the climate pilgrims engaged in a joint activity with the people of the town of Imielin in the Silesia region, who oppose the construction of the new hard coal mine and ask for the deployment of renewable energy instead.

In recent months, the Vatican has convened a top€“level conference on climate change and the Pope has told oil company CEOs that “civilization requires energy, but energy use must not destroy civilization!” In his famed encyclical letter on climate change and ecology “Laudato Si””, Pope Francis states that “technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels€“especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas, needs to be progressively replaced without delay.”

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