COP28: SECAM calls for urgent action aligned with Pope Francis’ call

As COP28 unfolds in Dubai, SECAM’s representative urges delegates to follow Pope Francis’ guidance for climate action, emphasising the Church’s role in advocating for justice.

By Francesca Merlo and Marine Henriot – Dubai

The expectations of SECAM (Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar) for COP28 are for a decision to be made “according to the recommendations of Pope Francis in his new Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum because nothing came after COP27.”

Speaking to Marine Henriot in Dubai, Fr. Jean Germain Rajoelison, Second Deputy General in Charge of Justice, Peace and Development Commission of SECAM, underscored the crucial need for substantive outcomes from this conference.

For victims of climate change

One of the areas in need of immediate action, he stressed, is the reduction of carbon emissions, especially for vulnerable regions like Madagascar.

“Madagascar, especially in the south, is a victim of drought, and we need to clarify the situation,” he noted.

Fr. Rajoelison drew attention to the efforts of some developed countries, which have shown willingness to support poorer nations, emphasizing the concept of climate justice.

“For us, climate justice is important,” said Fr. Germain. “We must take into consideration those people who are victims of climate change.”

He urged that this be done, echoing the sentiments of Pope Francis regarding an ecological conversion and a shift in behaviour and thinking patterns.

The role of the Church

Fr. Rajoelison went on to speak of the critical role of the Church in advocating for the voiceless victims of climate change.

“We, with the regional conferences in Africa and committed laymen and laywomen, are actively engaged in sensitising people on this issue,” he stressed, emphasizing the Church’s commitment to promoting human rights and alleviating poverty.

“The Catholic Church, through the Commission of Justice and Peace, is the voice of the voiceless,” Fr. Rajoelison emphasised. 

He highlighted the collaborative efforts with both Catholic entities and non-governmental organisations to effectively communicate the Church’s message and combat societal disparities.

Asked about Africa’s representation at COP28, Fr. Rajoelison expressed his optimism at the knowledge that “African countries can show solidarity among themselves to establish a new world in Africa where justice, peace, and fraternity can reign.”