Catholic leaders warn of 'environmental refugees' scenario

.- A statement issued yesterday following the weekend's national climate change conference, calls for ecological conversion, warning that global warming could create a new wave of dispossessed people.

The warning followed a Position Paper launched by the Catholic Bishops Committee for Justice Development Ecology and Peace, which urged all Australians to cooperate in open dialogue and face the radical changes required to tackle global climate change.

Catholic Earthcare Australia was set up in 2003 by the Australian Bishops' Conference and is chaired by Bishop Christopher Toohey.

In the keynote address before more than 300 delegates, Bishop Toohey said that human induced accelerated climate change "raises serious moral and spiritual questions, not just for Catholics but for all Australian citizens and leaders, and calls for change in our way of life.

"Scientific research has concluded that humans have caused rapid global climate change by contributing to ever higher concentrations of greenhouse gases, 80 per cent of which comes from the burning of fossil fuels.

"If we act now the changes can be slowed and harm can still be minimise," he said.

Conference organizer and Executive Officer of CEA, Colin Brown, drew attention to United Nations figures released during the conference that revealed a blowout in Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.

"These alarming figures, released ahead of the international climate change conference in Montreal later this month showed that Australia's emissions have increased by a massive 23 per cent in the past 13 years," he said. "They expose a decade of lost opportunity in Australia in which things are getting worse, not better."

All speakers in a packed two-day program that combined theologians of many faiths with scientists warned of the need for urgent and immediate action.


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