‘Nothing but an emission of hot air’

November 18, 2021

That seems to be the most appropriate headline on the recent COP26 summit. It was based on the reactions of some Philippine legislators, who, by the way, seemed to have not also contributed to the advancement of climate change mitigation.

We can easily enumerate what they, our congressmen and senators, could have done even before the summit, such as the passage of laws prohibiting coal-fired power plants, the total ban of the use of single-use plastic, and of course the protection of our oceans, among others.

The silence of politicians on the climate crisis issue was, well, expected. Why would they talk about something that many of them, in the first place, don’t understand. Secondly, why would they speak on issues that might not benefit them or their political interest.

What’s surprising, however, is the silence of many of our Church leaders — clergy, religious, and lay — who are supposed to put into action in dioceses, parishes and communities Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, the Laudato si’.

Issues and challenges related to the environment, especially the current climate emergency, which I supposed many in the Church do not understand or refuse to understand, are actually part of the ongoing synodal process that, again, was initiated by Pope Francis.

There were several faith-based and non-government groups who attended, and made their voices hoarse shouting pro-environment slogans in Glasgow, but there seems to be little reverberation back here on the ground.

There was a dearth of photos and reports from Europe during the two-week meeting, making me wonder what our good advocates were doing with their mobile phones during the whole time, aside from the selfies and “groufies” posted on social media.

A reminder to our dear Catholic brothers and sisters — yes, including you priests and bishops — take note that the Vatican has already released (way back in May) a seven-year plan to widen the reach of Laudato si’.

It is supposed to be, in the words of Pope Francis, a platform for “a seven-year journey that will see our communities committed in different ways to becoming totally sustainable, in the spirit of integral ecology.” (Whatever that means, you should explain to us morons.)

The pope said that the world needs “a new ecological approach that can transform our way of dwelling in the world, our lifestyles, our relationship with the resources of the earth and, in general, our way of looking at humanity and of living life.”

I pray, nay, I hope, that these words have been understood and put into action in our local communities, not only by the poor, who seem to be always the target not only of “mercy and compassion” but also of works to be done when it comes to the Church’s mission.

Several action plans have been developed already, especially through the initiatives of Caritas Philippines (yes, that indefatigable Church agency). These, however, need to be cascaded down to the basic ecclesial communities, especially in urban centers where, I think, people should study, understand, and put to heart the teachings of Laudato si’ because it is in these gated communities where many of those who destroy the environment live.

Whew! That’s already a lot. What I only wanted to say was, I find the Philippine Star headline — “COP26 conference ‘nothing but an emission of hot air’” — awesome (Insert smiley here)!

Jose Torres Jr. is a Filipino journalist and editor-at-large of LiCAS.news

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