Filipino Catholics urged to shun single-use plastic

Call comes in wake of 11,258 scientists from 153 countries issuing a letter warning of a climate emergency
Filipino Catholics urged to shun single-use plastic

Young lawyers and law students from around the world — (from left) Shannon Peters (Oceania), Nicole Ponce (Asia), Miranda Steed (Europe and the Americas), Tarini Mehta (South Asia and Africa) — filed a 'People’s Petition' against climate change with the UN International Court of Justice. (Photo supplied)

A bishop in the Philippines has called on Catholics to shun single-use plastic in the wake of calls made by more than 11,000 scientists across the globe warning of a climate emergency.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, north of Manila, said people should take climate change seriously by being responsible stewards of creation.

"We have to be responsible and faithful stewards of creation," said the prelate. "We must be serious about climate change. Do something good and useful to prevent degradation of our environment."

The bishop urged local churches and Catholic schools to start implementing steps to preserve the environment.

Early this week, 11,258 scientists from 153 countries issued a letter warning of a climate emergency and calling for a gradual reduction in the world’s population.

In a statement, the signatories listed both economic growth and a global population increase among the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.

The report called for "bold and drastic transformations regarding economic and population policies."

A group of young Filipinos earlier in September joined youth leaders from around the world in filing a petition with the United Nations.

The young people belonging to the "I Am Climate Justice" movement called on the International Court of Justice to start legal proceedings to compel countries to address the climate crisis.

The movement is a global initiative of young people to call on the world’s governments to take strong, serious and sustained action to face the climate crisis.  

The new global movement draws inspiration from a 1993 Philippine Supreme Court decision on the duties of states — and the right of children and future generations — for a safe, clean and livable environment.

The youth leaders were joined in New York by two Filipino environmental advocates — Edward Hagedorn, former mayor of the city of Puerto Princesa in the central Philippines, and lawyer Tony Oposa.

Hagedorn, known as the "First Green Mayor of the World," received the UN Global Roll of Honor in 1997. He was cited for being the first local government leader to put sustainable development as the cornerstone of his administration. 

Oposa, also a recipient of the Global Roll of Honor and of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, was recently appointed the Normandy Chair for Peace.

He was responsible for the 1993 "Children’s Case" wherein the Philippine Supreme Court ruled that the government must assure a safe, clean and livable environment for future generations.

Hagedorn said that aside from giving inspiration to the next generation, they also encouraged the petitioners to gather more volunteers for the campaign. "There is no heart stronger than a volunteer," he said.

The youth leaders — made up of law students, young lawyers and citizens — are also gathering 10 million signatures around the world to support the petition.

The Vatican has supported the Paris agreement, with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin stating last year that "climate change is an issue increasingly more moral than technical."

This week the warning issued by the scientists noted a rapid rise in greenhouse gas emissions in recent decades along with other factors.

Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on the environment, Laudato si, states that despite calls for population control as a solution to poverty, "demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development."

"To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some is one way of refusing to face the issues," read the encyclical.

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