Petition by coalition of faith groups calls for more action on climate change

By Brian Dryden, Canadian Catholic News

[Ottawa -CCN] – Catholic climate change activists and other social justice and faith groups are striving to get as many Canadians as possible to sign a petition that calls on the federal government to follow through on making policy changes to combat climate change and put the needs of Indigenous Canadians at the forefront of federal policies in the future.

The online petition, which has a deadline of Oct. 6, 2020 for signatures before it is officially filed with the federal government, is part of the “For The Love of Creation” coalition of Canadian churches and faith-based organizations that have come together since April to advocate for what they call a “just  recovery” from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to demand government action on climate change and reconciliation between Canadians and Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.

The online petition states: “We, the undersigned, residents of Canada and members of Canadian faith communities, call upon the Government of Canada to:

1. Commit to reducing Canadian GHG emissions by 60 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, while investing in a just transition to a fair, inclusive, green economy that creates good secure jobs, and promotes the well-being of everyone in Canada;

2. Honour the rights of Indigenous peoples by animating the principle of free, prior and informed consent, particularly in the context of climate policy, energy policy, and infrastructure development, key to a robust and functioning right of free prior and informed consent is legislative implementation of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

3. Commit equal support for climate change adaptation and mitigation measures in the Global South through international climate financing mechanisms, with additional funding for loss and damage, scaling up to a fair share contribution of at least $4 billion USD per year;

4. Respond to the pandemic in the Global South through multilateral debt cancellation and increased grant-based support for Canadian international NGOs.”

The petition started collecting signatures July 8, 2020, and it closes to signatures at 2 p.m. Oct. 6.

The For the Love of Creation coalition, which was launched on Earth Day in April 2020, is working on a multi-pronged approach to climate change and First Nations activism that falls in line with Pope Francis’ calls for the state of the earth’s environment to be the focal point of Catholic and social justice campaigns across the globe.

“Because of our selfishness, we have failed in our responsibility to be guardians and stewards of the Earth,” Pope Francis said in a statement he made on Earth Day 2020. “We have polluted and despoiled it, endangering our very lives.”

Joe Gunn, executive director of the Centre Oblat – A Voice for Justice at Ottawa’s Catholic Saint Paul University, said the online petition has collected enough signatures to reach the threshold to be officially recognized through the House of Commons, but the more signatures the better as the deadline of Oct. 6 approaches.

“We’ve got enough signatures now, that the federal government will have to prepare an official response to the petition. The more people who sign and get involved in this issue the more it will have an impact,” he said.