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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Bishop calls on public to keep the environment pressure on MPs

Catholics must continue to remind politicians of the responsibility they owe to the world’s most vulnerable, the Bishop for the Environment has said.

His call comes as a new survey suggests that more than half of people say climate change will influence the way they vote in the next general election.

“The way that people from across generations have together urged our politicians to respond to the climate crisis has made a great impression on me. I am proud that Catholics have led the way in calling for action and making changes in our own parishes,” the Bishop of Salford, John Arnold, told The Catholic Universe.

“We must continue to remind politicians of the responsibility they owe to the most vulnerable members of our global family who are bearing the brunt of the rise in temperatures.”

A poll for environmental lawyers ClientEarth found that almost two- thirds (63 per cent) agree that politicians are not discussing the issue of climate change enough in the run-up to the next national vote.

Against a backdrop of protests by Extinction Rebellion and school strikers calling for more urgent efforts to tackle rising temperatures, seven in 10 people think the climate emergency demands more swift action.

Some 58 per cent say the Government is not doing enough, and there is also pressure on investors, with three-in -five (59 per cent) thinking financial institutions and banks should no longer invest in fossil fuels.

And 55 per cent expect their own pension and other investment funds to avoid fossil fuel projects that contribute to global warming – and almost as many (52 per cent) would consider switching if their fund was too exposed to coal, oil and gas.

Many would like to see their pension funds and financial institutions actively support the transition to a sustainable economy and to consider the climate impacts of the companies they invest in.

Two-thirds (65 per cent) thought fossil fuel companies should help pay for the billions of pounds in damages from extreme weather events.

A majority also think climate change is also causing political instability in the UK, and people were supportive of bringing forward the 2050 deadline to cut UK greenhouse gases to net zero and for a ‘green new deal’ or ‘green industrial revolution’ with large-scale, long-term investment in green jobs and infrastructure.

People wanted the Government to limit further climate change by planting trees, making homes more energy efficient and investing more into renewable energy.

The Government should also do more to drive the use of low-emission vehicles such as electric cars.

“It’s great news that increasing numbers of people are seeing the climate crisis as an election issue,” Ellen Teague, of the Columban Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, told The Catholic Universe.

“Brexit has sucked time and energy from politicians in recent years, and it is only public pressure that will draw attention to this issue.

“Let’s hope that election manifestos bring forward the 2050 deadline to cut UK greenhouse gases to net zero and the ‘green new deal’ proposal, plus promises of large-scale, long-term investment in green jobs and infrastructure.

“I will be judging how far each party promises measures to promote global peace, environmental security and a reduction in social inequality.”

Dr Edward Echlin, an eco-theologian and Honorary Fellow at Leeds Trinity University, told The Catholic Universe: “Business and financial interests are foremost movers in our societies. This can be advantageous because of the intelligence of citizens who engaged in the intricacies of modern finances. However, with the increasing danger to our lives from climate change, financial services have not responded well.

“For our future most citizens realise we must reduce greenhouse gases to net zero, while increasing green jobs and infrastructure and with each of us embracing a sustainable way of life,” Dr Echlin added.

Picture: A voter placing a ballot paper in the ballot box. (Rui Vieira/PA).