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Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Cosmology and Environment Working Group Report

March 3, 2015

We are developing a “Path to Paris” agenda for education and advocacy leading up to the Paris climate talks in December. Included in this are:

  • Advocacy with our faith and secular partners to defeat the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry very dirty tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. In the US this has become a symbol of either turning away from fossil fuel development or plodding ahead with business as usual with catastrophic results
  • Advocacy with our faith partners in support of Obama Administration rules to limit carbon emissions from power plants, the US-China greenhouse gas emissions agreement, the Green Climate Fund contribution, methane emissions regulations and whatever else might be announced in the coming year that addresses climate change
  • Working with a Quaker advocacy group and others to push Congress to acknowledge that climate change is real, is caused by humans and there is an urgent need for action
  •   Actively participating with the Catholic Climate Covenant in preparation for the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment. The Covenant, a coalition of national Catholic groups including the US bishops, is preparing educational and spiritual resources, setting up media events and considering training folks to talk on the encyclical. We will be using all of these resources to reach out to legislators to urge action, based on the pope’s appeal.
  • Joining with faith partners to push the US to put substantial carbon emission targets on the table at the Paris talks

Justice coordinators from throughout the Institute, including from the US, Argentina and Panama, will be in DC Feb. 27-March 2 to continue to explore the deeper meaning of sustainability and what that means for advocacy, education of our networks, and living into practices and policies that align with our concern for vulnerable people, communities and cultures and Earth herself. As one step, we are now drafting a letter to Pope Francis thanking him for preparing an environmental encyclical, outlining our concerns from our analysis and sisters’ lived experience, and expressing hopes that he will as he has in the past connect concerns for Earth with a critique of the economic system at the root of all of those concerns.

We continue to work with faith partners to address excesses in extractive industries, including environmental degradation and human rights abuses. We are now exploring how we might join with others to influence institutions, such as the World Bank, that play out-sized roles in development in addition to speaking out against specific abuses in areas in which we have a presence. We recognize the importance of addressing patterns of mining abuses, such as criminalization of protesters, that are playing out around the world.
We hope to work closely with Aine in advocacy around the Sustainable Development Goals and look forward to learning more about how we might be helpful from our perch in Washington, D.C.

Messages to: Marianne Comfort