On this occasion of Earth Day – April 22 – we celebrate the signing of the historic Paris climate agreement by more than 150 countries represented at the United Nations in New York. The Paris agreement is a positive response to the moral call for a safe climate for future generations of people and all of creation, especially in climate-vulnerable countries. The aim of the agreement is critical for the survival of all humanity: to limit global temperature rise and shift the world to 100 percent renewable energy.
This agreement is a good beginning, but just the beginning. Countries will need to adopt policy changes and incorporate these changes into their legal systems. We must ensure that the steps we take to scale up clean energy solutions contribute to thriving and resilient local economies rather than displacement, violence, or loss of livelihoods, especially in already vulnerable communities, as evidenced in some large-scale renewable projects today.
Maryknoll missioners, Catholic men and women who serve in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, see the impact climate change has on the lives of our sisters and brothers who are least able to respond to sea level rise and drought, from Tanzania to Bangladesh. We have also seen through our mission experience the devastation that large-scale energy projects can bring – displacing communities, destroying local economies, livelihoods, ecosystems, health – sometimes violently with mortal consequences. We hope that as we transition to a clean energy future that these new projects do not repeat past mistakes and instead prioritize the needs and engagement of local communities.
To read our analysis of the Paris agreement, go to http://maryknollogc.org/statements/historic-climate-deal-step-right-direction.
Before we embark on the many important tasks involved in sustainable climate action, we pause today to celebrate the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement. Together we have contributed to this moment and together we can achieve the goal of a safe climate for all of creation.
We join tens of thousands of people around the world in prayer for the Earth at Noon today. We pray in gratitude for this moment, and for God's strength for the hard work ahead. We offer this prayer:
We hold the Earth
We hold brothers and sisters who suffer from storms and droughts intensified by climate change.
We hold all species that suffer.
We hold world leaders delegated to make decisions for life.
We pray that the web of life may be mended through courageous actions to limit carbon emissions.
We pray for right actions for adaptation and mitigation to help our already suffering earth community.
We pray that love and wisdom might inspire my actions and our actions as communities. . .
so that we may, with integrity, look into the eyes of brothers and sisters and all beings and truthfully
say, we are doing our part to care for them and the future of the children.
May love transform us and our world with new steps toward life.