Bishop Martin Hayes: Pope Francis attending COP28 demonstrates his commitment as a global environmental leader … carbon capture, and economics, won’t solve our climate crisis

27 Nov 2023

  • Bishop Hayes requests meetings with Minister Ryan and environment frontbench politicians regarding COP28

Key points

  • COP28 in Dubai needs to agree on operating the ‘Loss and Damage fund’, reflecting the highest level of accountability and compliance with core principles of equity and historic responsibility.
  • Ireland should show leadership on Loss and Damage fund by announcing a significant contribution.
  • Loss and Damage fund needs to be urgently capitalised and human rights based, with direct access to impacted communities.
  • Ireland can commit to Energy Transition by pledging support to the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

 On behalf of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference Laudato Si’ Working Group (LSWG), Bishop Martin Hayes has written to Minister Eamon Ryan, Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, as well as to all frontbench environmental spokespersons of political parties North and South, seeking an urgent meeting with regard to Ireland’s commitments for COP28, the UN Climate Conference which will take place in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December. 
In his correspondence to politicians, Bishop Hayes has enclosed a copy of Pope Francis’ recent publication that focuses on the climate crisis facing humanity, Laudate Deum.
In an open letter, on behalf of the LSWG, Bishop Hayes stated, “In his 2015 ground-breaking encyclical letter on care for creation Laudato Si, Pope Francis placed emphasis on our interconnectedness as human beings with our natural world.  On 4 October last, the Feast of the patron of the environment, Saint Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis issued a supplementary document, Laudate Deum, ‘to clarify and complete’ Laudato Si’ (LD, 4).  In Laudate Deum, the Holy Father highlights the consequences of ignoring that interconnectedness, ie in seeing ourselves as separate from our natural world.  In view of the ever-increasing global emissions – now comprehensively linked to the recent environmental disasters around our world and their impact upon the poorest and most vulnerable – the Pope calls us to act urgently, for ‘the world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point’ (LD, 2).”
‘Loss and Damage fund’ to compensate countries suffering most from the climate crisis.
Highlighting that those who have suffered Loss and Damage due to climate change must be compensated, Bishop Hayes, on behalf of the LSWG, said, “Pope Francis calls attention to Africa, ‘home to more than half of the world’s poorest people’ (LD, 9) who are least responsible for global emissions, yet who are suffering the most.  Our Western world has caused much damage, the challenge now is to prevent further damage (LD 16).  Pope Francis calls for compensation to be paid to these developing countries rather than just helping them adapt (LD 46).  He acknowledges that the agreement on Loss and Damage at COP27 was a step forward and offers hope to those most affected by climate change (LD 51).”
Bishop Hayes continued, “Following the historic decision at COP27 to establish new funding arrangements for responding to loss and damage, we strongly encourage: 

  • the COP28 parties to agree on the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage fund, reflecting the highest level of accountability and compliance with core principles of equity and historic responsibility;
  • Ireland to demonstrate leadership on loss and damage by announcing a significant funding pledge in support of the new Loss and Damage fund;
  • the fund to be capitalised through additional, grant based finance that is predictable and adequate; and,
  • that the fund is human rights based, with direct access to impacted communities.

Energy Transition
On Energy Transition, the LSWG highlights Pope Francis’ view of COP28 as “a historic moment for our world, agreeing on ‘binding forms of energy transition’ (LD, 59).  Pope Francis expresses the hope that this energy transition meets three conditions: be efficient, obligatory and readily monitored.  In order to begin a new process of energy transition, away from fossil fuels, Pope Francis advocates ‘that it be drastic, intense and count on the commitment of all’ (LD, 59).”
“In the spirit of caring for our common home, we ask that the Government of Ireland take steps towards the ending of all fossil fuel subsidies and thereby ensure a fair transition to renewable energy.  Encouraged by the divestment from fossil fuels policy of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, initiated in 2018, we urge that as a country we pledge our support for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
Ireland leading the way to energy transition.
On behalf of the LSWG, Bishop Hayes, continued, “Pope Francis is urging world leaders to make COP28 a democratic and inclusive space for civil society and all countries.  We note that a reliance on technical solutions, such as carbon capture, and economics, is not the solution (LD, 66).  The Pope acknowledges the urgent need both for dialogue between politics and economics (LS, 189), and action; and prompts small countries, like Ireland, to lead the way to Energy Transition (LD, 40)”.
“In attending COP28, Pope Francis will demonstrate his commitment as a global leader on the environmental crisis as he acknowledges the urgent need for dialogue between politics and economics (LS, 189), and action.  The Holy Father also holds out the possibility of small countries, like Ireland, providing answers to our global climate problems (LD, 40), putting aside national interests in favour of the global common good.  We urge that these decisions reflect the concerns of our citizens, in particular those of our young people, regarding the future impact of climate change.  Despite the limitations of international politics, Pope Francis in Laudate Deum encourages all nations to participate in the upcoming COP28 in Dubai.
“We encourage our politicians to act in accord with the dignity of the human person and our interconnectedness with the natural world – we are part of nature and can look from within nature (LD, 25).  Indeed, implementing the COP15 Biodiversity agreements needs to be part of any climate deal.  Alongside such political decisions, Pope Francis concludes Laudate Deum by pointing out how our personal spiritual motivations can bring about the necessary transformation among the peoples of the world regarding our climate crisis.  He highlights the value of our personal decisions, the changes we make to our lifestyles which can result in a much-needed cultural change (LD, 70) in support of transnational initiatives.”

Notes for Editors
  • Bishop Martin Hayes is Bishop of Kilmore and Episcopal Coordinator for Laudato Si’ / Laudate Deum, and a member of the Laudato Si’ Working Group (LSWG) of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
  • The members of the LSWG are: Bishop Hayes, Vivek da Silva, Dr Cathriona Russell, Noirin Lynch, Dr Lorna Gold, Father Sean McDonagh SSC, Professor John Sweeney, Father Brian Grogan SJ, Dr Gary Carville, Father Michael Long SPMS, Jane Mellett, Sister Patricia Lynott RJM, Laura Madrigal, and Kate Liffey.
  • Irish Bishops have signed the following faith leaders’ statement on Loss and Damage for COP 28, and encourage leaders in parishes and dioceses to do likewise – see link below.   It was compiled by CIDSE, an international family of Christian social justice organisations, including Trócaire, that are working for transformational change to end poverty and inequalities, challenging systemic injustice, inequity, destruction of nature and promoting just and environmentally sustainable alternatives.  The current President of CIDSE is Caoimhe de Barra, CEO of Trócaire.  Click here for the faith leaders’ statement.
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