Mary Robinson joined Climate Justice champions at the People and Planet First: The Imperative to Change Course conference in Rome to mark the publication of Pope Francis' Encyclical Laudato Si'
Mary Robinson delivered a keynote speech at the People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course conference on Friday 03 July in which she emphasised the need for gender equality in all areas of life, including dealing with climate change.
Speaking at the conference, organised by CIDSE, the network of 17 Catholic development agencies and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Mary Robinson argued “We will not solve the climate crisis or embark on a new pathway to sustainable development if we don’t fully engage the 50% of the world’s population that are women”.
The conference was organised on the occasion of the release of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’ and featured several speakers including Pa Ousman Jarju, Gambian Minister of the Environment, the Prime Minister of Tuvalu Enele Sopoaga, author Naomi Klein and Prof. Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Climate justice was a central theme of the discussions and there was a strong consensus for the realisation that the solutions to climate change lie beyond the scope of science as each speaker highlighted the need for new models of development, production, commerce and consumption.
Minister Ousman Jarju said “Borrowing from Pope Francis’s encyclical, as the world’s poorest are facing the worst impacts of climate change, it is indeed time ‘to consider an ethics of international relations’.”
Cardinal Turkson President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace also highlighted the need to rethink our models of production and consumption as mentioned in the encyclical “In Laudato si’, Pope Francis asks what kind of world we are leaving for our children (§ 160). It simply cannot be an environment unable to sustain life, nor a place of unending strife among peoples. The aim must be “People and Planet First” – not one or the other, not one at the expense of the other”.
Mohamed ElFarnawany Director of Strategic Management and Executive Direction at IRENA made a point about the need to shift to renewable energy by saying: “Our todays energy system is unsustainable and irresponsible. We need to move to renewable energy, we have a moral case, backed by a business case, now we need to diversify, decentralise and democratise the energy system and stop fossil fuel subsidies”.
Looking towards pathways to achieve climate justice Mary Robinson said “No country has developed without fossil fuels to date. So we are asking developing countries to meet their sustainable development goals without using fossil fuels – in other words they will have to develop using a different model to that which made the industrialised countries wealthy. This can only be achieved when developing countries are supported with the necessary climate finance, investment and transfer of technology to make this transition.”
Cardinal Turkson closed the conference highlighting the need to continue to work together, to take on the ideas generated at the conference, including giving the role of women a greater emphasis.