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Jesuits at COP26 call to action

The UN’s largest climate change conference, COP26, is being held in Glasgow between 31 October and 12 November. More than 30,000 official delegates from 190 countries are expected to join this important conference, in addition to millions of people who will follow the events on the Internet. This is of particular interest to the Society of Jesus because of our own commitment to the Universal Apostolic preference to Care for our Common Home.

Through the Ecojesuit network, the Society of Jesus and the Ignatian family will be actively present in Glasgow, raising the voices of the poor and marginalized to decision makers. About 15 delegates representing Ecojesuit and the Society of Jesus will be in Glasgow participating in various events and programs. Many more will follow the events online from around the world.

Working closely with the poor and marginalized, we have witnessed the devastating consequences of climate change over the years. The rise in temperature is not just an idea, but manifests itself concretely in the daily lives of people around the world, be it in the socio-economic, political, religious or cultural spheres. Jesuit social centers around the world, working in the most remote and often forgotten places, feel and understand the unprecedented suffering and hardship experienced by those on the margins, especially farmers, Indigenous Peoples, and vulnerable communities dependent on nature.

Since 2008, when Ecojesuit was constituted as a network under the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat, it has relentlessly promoted local-global dialogue to discern ways to achieve effective change; accompanied regional actions by bringing together other environmental organizations at the regional level; and supported local initiatives towards ecological conversion. The results of these efforts can be seen at the local level. Although small compared to the gravity of the ecological crisis, these efforts are indispensable and need to be globally supported in solidarity. The Ecojesuit network sees COP26 as an opportunity to save our planet Earth.

Due to the pandemic, COP26 was postponed to November 2021, previously scheduled for 2020. Having prepared for this event despite the pandemic crisis, Ecojesuit saw this move as a reclassification of climate change to a less urgent and lesser priority, along with a lack of recognition that the Covid-19 pandemic was indeed a consequence of climate change.

Despite this, Ecojesuit used the occasion to intensify preparations for COP26. A letter was sent to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, reiterating that the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change are not two separate crises and that both should be of equal importance. The letter asked the Prime Minister and the UK government to take advantage of this situation to prepare more intensively for COP26.

For our part, Ecojesuit left no stone unturned in preparing for the Glasgow event: a new website, Ecojesuit COP26 was created, links were established with several other organizations, and efforts were made to convince people to go green at all levels. In this process, a large number of young people were mobilized to achieve the COP26 goal.

Let us hope that the Glasgow climate change conference will not be just another event with many verbal promises and commitments, but will initiate actions towards a real ecological conversion with action.

This story was originally published in CPAL (Conferencia de Provinciales en América Latina y Caribe).

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