Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 15, 2002
Endorse Kyoto, bishops urge
Canadian bishops call for a healthy planet
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Canada's Catholic bishops are calling for Canada to ratify the Kyoto protocol and begin a program of emissions control.
In a June 25 letter to Environment Minister David Anderson, the bishops say the challenges of climate change are both moral and spiritual.
"We add our voices to those who are insisting upon a healthy planet and asking for political will to ensure it remains so," they say. "Signing the Kyoto protocol is both a necessary responsibility and a symbol of Canada's commitment to the health of our world."
This is not the first time the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has also been engaged in the issue of climate change. Through participation in the 1997 petition of the Canadian Council of Churches, 50,000 signatures were presented to the Canadian government in favour of action against climate change.
In February 2001, the bishops' Commission for Social Affairs wrote an open letter to all members of Parliament, entitled The Common Good or Exclusion: A Choice for Canadians, in which they said the Canadian government should ratify the Kyoto protocol.
"We now wish to repeat our call to Canada to ratify the Kyoto protocol and begin a decisive program of emissions reductions," they say.
"Such action should serve as a catalyst for specific policies on energy efficiency and renewable energy production, both of which are necessary to meet the protocol targets. The longer we wait, the harder it will become to meet the goal of reducing the production of greenhouse gases. The damages will only increase over time if no, or insufficient, action is taken."
These damaging effects will be most severe for the more vulnerable peoples located in the northern parts of Canada, coastal regions, and in the southern and poorer countries, the bishops' letter notes.
"The economic costs of not acting to redress climate change will be far greater than the costs of reducing greenhouse gases, adopting alternative energy policies and developing more ecologically benign lifestyles."
"Signing the Kyoto protocol is both a necessary responsibility and a symbol of Canada's commitment to the health of our world."
- bishops' Social Affairs Commission
In the letter, signed by Quebec Bishop Jean Gagnon, chair of the social affairs commission, the bishops express their gratitude to Anderson for his leadership in working with the 168 countries that have agreed to sign the protocol. But they seek further action from the environment minister and federal government.
"(We) encourage the government to continue with ratification of the Kyoto protocol," they say.
"The problems of climate change and global warming affect all of humanity, as well as the entire ecosystem.
"But these are not only economic issues. In every world religion there are themes of a spirituality or sacredness of the earth. Those who contemplate the earth soon come to have a great sense of wonder. In our time, perhaps more than any other, we need to reawaken a sense of wonder and reverence for the earth as one means of fostering a sense of care for creation and solidarity with others."