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Onaiyekan urges industrialised world to take lead in tackling emissions

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Cardinal John Onaiyekan

THE Archbishop of Abuja,  Cardinal John Onaiyekan, said the industrialized world needs to take the lead in tackling carbon emissions, and not try to force poorer countries to “stay where they are.”

The Cardinal was speaking on Tuesday on the sidelines of a workshop on climate change being held at the Vatican.

“The rich countries who have already gone very far ahead of the poor countries ought not to be demanding of that the poor countries must still stay where they are for fear of damaging the environment, when it is they who are damaging the environment in more than 80per cent of the situation,” Cardinal Onaiyekan told Vatican Radio.

“The rest of the world will have to recognize and acknowledge the needs of the poor countries in this whole discussion, because despite all that we are saying about reducing carbon emission, we are only talking about reducing, not eliminating – which means even America, China, Russia, Europe, they are all still throwing carbon emissions into the air – so they should allow a small country like Nigeria to start its own factories,” he said.

The meeting, sponsored by the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Sciences, brought together scientists, political leaders, and religious figures to talk about climate change, and the Sustainable Development Goals being proposed by the United Nations.

Cardinal Onaiyekan told Vatican Radio the “first duty” of religious leaders is to be “properly informed,” and praised the presentations.
“We begin to realize that since this affects every living people on the earth, the religious people have their own role to play,” he said.
He said it was their duty to speak about “the danger that is hanging over everybody”, not only to their own congregations, but also to those who make policy decisions.

Meanwhile, top officials from the Vatican, the head of the United Nations and leading scientists came together at a summit last week in Vatican City to label the fight against man-made climate change as a “moral issue.”

“Mitigating climate change and adapting to its effects are necessary to eradicate extreme poverty, reduce inequality and secure equitable, sustainable economic development,” said Ban Ki Moon, U.N. secretary-general, in the keynote speech.

“It is a moral issue. It is an issue of social justice, human rights and fundamental ethics,” Ki-Moon said, adding that “climate change is the defining issue of our time.”

The summit, arranged by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, is the prologue to Pope Francis’ June encyclical — one of the highest forms of papal expression — that will promote climate change action, framing it as a moral and religious imperative.

Also attending Tuesday’s summit were Francis’ key environmental advisers, the presidents of Italy and Ecuador, religious leaders from different faiths, Nobel laureates and respected climate change scientists, the Associated Press reported.


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