CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 September 2018

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Human rights for victims of climate change

The anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights last December 10 reminds us that migrants fleeing war and the economic effects of climate change have rights that must be respected.

The growing intolerance towards these unfortunate people is detestable and must be contested and denounced. 

The presidential candidate in the United States of America (US), Donald Trump, called for a total ban on Muslims entering the country. This is racist and bigotry of the worst kind.

We should support the rights of migrants and victims of climate change and war.

The Christmas story celebrates the coming of Jesus of Nazareth, who gave human rights and dignity to the world, especially to women and children.

Jesus and his parents were migrants fleeing the massacres of the king, Herod.

If Egypt had closed its borders, the holy family might have been killed.

Compensation and justice for the poor has been agreed too at the Paris Conference of Parities on Climate Change, but perhaps it is not enough and without a guarantee that it will be implemented.

These are the great values and virtues Pope Francis is practicing and promoting, as he opens the doors to a Jubilee Year of Mercy. 

Recently, Pope Francis joined a soup kitchen and ate with the poor from the streets.

The world needs to get away from the hate speech, discrimination and rejection of the poor and instead nations must reach out and share the bounty of the planet with all others for a life of dignity and justice.

We too must do our share and give to the needy.

As we look back on the Paris conference on climate change we also must look upon the millions affected by the great injustices that the people of poor nations suffer. 

Mercy, compassion and environmental justice is what they need and deserve.

We need a new positive spirit of cooperation, tolerance and forgiveness.

The Paris agreement is a breakthrough in important aspects and giving justice to poor developing countries that suffer most from global warming is a priority.

They have the least responsibility in causing global warming and yet they endure the worst effects.

Small nations in the Pacific, like Kiribati, are being covered by the rising oceans. It is right and just that they be compensated by the rich nations.

They have not caused the climate crisis. It is the rich and powerful economies that are polluting the
planet and the Paris conference has recognised this.

The massive oil and coal-
producing and using countries are blocking the adoption of stringent capping of emission levels of greenhouse gases that are destroying the planet.

This is the power of the multinationals that donate to support the election of national leaders of their choice. This is still a neo-colonial world.

These are the negative powers of greed, the Herods of the modern world, causing massive migration by contributing to global warming and climate change that is destroying crops and the environment.

They can then supply the needed food from their food production corporations when famine and hunger or other disasters occur.

With such control, they can force weak, corrupt puppet government officials to open up the natural resources for exploration and extraction by the multinationals which are in cahoots with local corporations, many owned by the families of government officials.

This mining, like open-pit mining, gas and oil extraction, destroys more of the environment and produces more fossil fuels.

Pope Francis has made this extremely clear in his encyclical, Praise Be; On care for our common home.

“And also the deterioration of the environment and of society affects the most vulnerable people on the planet. Today, a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach. It must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. Greater attention must be given to the needs of the poor, the weak and the vulnerable, in debates often dominated by the powerful and by more powerful interests” (No52).

If the Paris conference is to have any positive effect, it will be to compel the rich to give aid to the poor countries. Famine will surely happen again in Africa if the global temperatures rise above 1.5 degrees centigrade.

The trend is almost unstoppable and unless there are drastic cuts in the burning of fossil fuels and the emission of the greenhouse gases the worst may be inevitable.

The planet will reach a tipping point at two degrees centigrade, at which point the trend can’t be reversed.

Millions of people are driven into poverty and despair by the loss of crops and homes. They need all the help we can give. This is where global justice is urgently needed.

We cannot turn away with a cold heart. Compassion and care is what Jesus of Nazareth brought into the world and the Good Samaritan that heals and helps the traveller and the wounded is what mercy and compassion in life is all about.

 • Father Shay Cullen