RED DEER (CCN) — Climate change is real and it is the poorest people of the world, those least responsible for carbon emissions, who suffer the greatest impact, says a national council member of Development and Peace.
Speaking to D&P delegates from across Alberta April 25, Josianne Gauthier cited repeated droughts, rising sea levels and melting glaciers as signs that global climate patterns are changing.
North Americans, who are the most directly responsible for climate change, should take serious steps to reduce their carbon footprint, Gauthier said at St. Mary’s Church in Red Deer.
Gauthier, director of in-Canada programs for D&P, said slowing climate change is a matter of justice for the poor.
She called on delegates to ally themselves with other organizations to pressure the Canadian government to present an action plan at the November climate conference in Paris, France.
Developed countries like Canada have the greatest responsibility for the environmental destruction that is today occurring around the world, she said.
D&P is also urging individuals to live simply and to consume fewer natural resources so generations to come can also benefit from the gifts of nature.
According to Gauthier, our western way of life must become more ecologically sustainable. “Over-consumption is depleting the earth,” she said in an interview. “We have created needs. Can we learn to live with enough?”
Catholics have a responsibility to make more earth-friendly decisions, she said, emphasizing that lifestyle changes can help slow down climate change.
“Can each person see how they can reduce their carbon consumption? Do we need two cars? Can we look at car-pooling or riding a bike to work?” The bottom line is “consume less and live with what you need.”
The “live simple” campaign is part of a global movement to connect Catholics around the world, Gauthier said.
The campaign will officially start in September but she gave a preview.
Ordinary people might not see climate change as a priority and “that’s why we have to make the connections for people on how it is affecting their everyday lives,” Gauthier said in the interview.
“Climate change is having an impact on the quality of their air, it’s having an impact on their health, it’s having an impact on the economy, on our social networks and it’s making populations migrate,” she noted.
“We are protected here in North America. In Europe I think they understand quite clearly how much the destruction of the earth is having an impact on people.
“We are going to end up feeling it here too because we are not going to be protected from it forever.”
In preparation for the Paris conference on climate change, “we are going to try to mobilize Catholics around the world,” Gauthier said.
“Here in Canada we are going to try to get some parishes to be involved and have activities of mobilization all around the country aimed at creating awareness about the (Paris conference).”
Catholic organizations, including D&P, will send delegations to Paris. “We are going to meet in Paris and try to speak out and show the strength of Catholics around the earth being involved in demanding change.”