Archbishop Eamon Martin hosts meeting with church leaders and environment Ministers Alan Kelly and Mark H Durkan in Armagh to discuss forthcoming UN climate change conference in Paris
At a joint meeting of environment ministers ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, from 30 November to 11 December 2015, Archbishop Eamon Martin has welcomed the cross–border dialogue and collaboration on this issue as an important example of leadership on one of the most urgent global justice issues of our time. Archbishop Martin, who hosted today’s meeting in Armagh, stated:
“Pope Francis has appealed for a strong international commitment to the care of the earth – our common home – in solidarity with the poorest and most vulnerable populations throughout the world. For too many people in developed societies like ours, this is still not a priority issue, but climate change affects everyone and will have a critical impact on the life chances of future generations. The meeting of environment ministers and their teams today sends an important message to society that this is an urgent justice issue.
“At our meeting today in Armagh we drew the ministers’ attention to the work of Trócaire in supporting some of the worst affected communities. This underlines the urgency of the proposed actions that will be before world leaders in Paris at the end of this month. This is most evident in the case of those who risk losing their homes and their capacity to produce food. The summit provides a historic opportunity to re–balance the equation towards more just and sustainable development. The changes required of developed nations are significant and there is a real risk that the major economic powers will dominate, eclipsing the human rights of the poor. What is needed is a robust international legal instrument, with ambitious targets and adequate mechanisms for enforcement and holding countries to account.
“We encourage the delegations from both jurisdictions on this island to use the opportunity of the forthcoming summit to be a voice for the poor. Moving to a more just and sustainable model of development will require all of us to re–think our lifestyles and how the choices we make in our consumption of goods and energy impact on the global poor and the generations to come. Taking up the challenges outlined by Pope Francis in his recent Encyclical Letter Laudato Si, we are ready to play our part, supporting our political leaders by promoting reflection on the care of creation and taking action – in our homes, schools and local parish communities.”
Mervyn McCullagh, speaking on behalf of the Irish Council of Churches, welcomed the Climate Bill currently passing through Seanad Éireann and stated that concerns from Senators should now be listened to and an amendment included in Report Stage of the Seanad to ensure both Houses of the Oireachtas vote on the National Mitigation Plan. He also noted that Ireland should seriously consider establishing a dedicated Climate Justice Fund so as to enhance Ireland’s contributions to the Green Climate Fund.
Mr McCullagh further added that the Northern Ireland Assembly should take note of the progressive legislation on climate justice that has recently been passed by the Scottish Parliament.
Minister Alan Kelly added, “Ireland strongly supports an ambitious, legally–binding global agreement with broad participation as a core outcome of COP 21 in Paris. The agreement will, I hope, enhance collective action towards a global transformation to a low–carbon climate resilient society while reassuring poor and vulnerable countries that they will be supported in their transition. We are fully committed here in Ireland to playing our part in reaching this historic agreement and indeed are only weeks away from passing into law Ireland’s first ever climate change legislation which will underpin on a statutory basis our collective Government response to how we achieve an effective low carbon transition while building climate resilience”.
Minister Mark H Durkan responded, “I believe we have a moral responsibility to protect the poorest and most vulnerable groups and regions from the dangers of climate change and that it is critical that we take action now. When I am at the annual Conference of Parties in Paris I will make it clear that we should be striving to secure an ambitious international agreement, and that the North of Ireland will play its full part in contributing to the agreed emission reduction targets. I am committed to the introduction of Climate Change Legislation in the North. I intend to issue, in the near future, a discussion paper to stakeholders seeking their views on proposals for a NI Climate Change Act.”