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Church leaders call for strong decision against fossil fuels as COP 28 counts last hours

DUBAI, UAE - Leaders from the Catholic Church in the Philippines present at the COP 28 climate talks in Dubai urged global leaders to land at a decision that will put an end to the proliferation of fossil fuels, and help avert worse suffering for poor and vulnerable peoples most impacted by climate change.

The call comes after a new text for the Global Stocktake (GST) dropped on the eve of the scheduled last day of the climate conference, featuring far weakened language than earlier drafts on the urgency of transitioning to clean energy - particularly phasing out fossil fuels in line with best available climate science. The GST is one of the biggest features of the climate conference, as it sees parties taking stock of climate action and gaps to keep global temperature rise from going beyond the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5°C or the less ambitious 2°C.

“Thousands of us came to COP28 with the hope that it will deliver the climate action we all so desperately seek. Our young people and vulnerable communities bravely spoke up too. But the latest Global Stocktake is crushing that hope. Our global leaders have the moral duty to use the remaining hours of this climate conference to deliver action compatible with 1.5°C, and herald a full and equitable phaseout of all fossil fuels. Now is their chance to make courageous decision to pursue the global common good above their national interests. Our time is running out!,” said Bishop Gerry Alminaza, Chair of the National Laudato Si' Program of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

The new text was received with much concern by civil society and several parties, including the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) group which proclaimed they would not sign their own “death warrant” based on this text.

Earlier in October, Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Exhortation gearing up for COP 28. He wrote: “The United Arab Emirates will host the next Conference of the Parties (COP28). It is a country of the Persian Gulf known as a great exporter of fossil fuels, although it has made significant investments in renewable energy sources. Meanwhile, gas and oil companies are planning new projects there, with the aim of further increasing their production…If we are confident in the capacity of human beings to transcend their petty interests and to think in bigger terms, we can keep hoping that COP28 will allow for a decisive acceleration of energy transition...This Conference can represent a change of direction, showing that everything done since 1992 was in fact serious and worth the effort, or else it will be a great disappointment and jeopardize whatever good has been achieved thus far."

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, a Goldman Prize awardee and lead convenor of the Protect Verde Island Passage (Protect VIP) network in the Philippines said world leaders must keep the best interests of people and nature in mind in coming up with final decisions. Gariguez resides in a province along the VIP, a marine biodiversity hotspot heavily threatened by ongoing and planned fossil fuel expansion in the Philippines.

"The earlier we phase out fossil fuels, the earlier our communities will be free from their deadly impacts, and our waters and seas can recuperate from pollution. A phaseout of all fossil fuels will help ensure that generations to come can have a fighting chance and ensure the survival and sustainability of all Creation," Gariguez said.



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