A Congolese prelate has said that any deal at COP27 must include reparations for poor countries suffering the worst effects of climate change.
The Archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungo OFM Cap, said that a new international agreement on climate change “must include finance for ‘loss and damage’, which is compensation for countries who are already suffering from climate impacts but are not responsible for causing it”.
“Climate change is a lived reality for millions of people across Africa,” he said. “Communities across this continent are suffering every day from increased frequency and intensity of droughts, floods, cyclones and heatwaves.”
Cardinal Ambongo, who is the vice president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, was speaking at a meeting of Catholic aid agencies in the parish of Our Lady of Peace in Sharm El Sheikh, where COP27 began on 6 November.
At the same event, Musamba Mubanga, the senior advocacy officer for Caritas Internationalis, described the compounding effects of climate change on areas already facing crises.
“Catholic institutions across the world are already on the frontline of the climate crisis,” he said, “helping people of all faiths and none to adapt to and recover from climate change. Caritas members across the world are already seeing the devastating impact that the climate crisis is having on access to food in already hungry parts of the world.
“COP27 must establish a democratic mechanism for the governance of agriculture, land and food systems under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.”
The meeting also discussed topics such as the condition of the Congo Basin and forced migration from affected regions, and reflected on the African Climate Dialogues, an initiative which brought together leaders from the Church and civil society from across Africa in five sessions between July and September this year.
In a communiqué on the dialogues issued last month, Cardinal Ambongo said: “Wherever you look on this continent, a continent already struggling due to an unjust global economic system, you see climate change holding back the potential for development.”
SCIAF was among the aid agencies represented at the meeting. Its partner advocacy officer Ben Wilson said that the climate crisis was “fundamentally an issue of justice and peace”.
“There can be no peace if polluters continue to profit from climate destruction while the people suffer, and there can be no justice without the promotion of peace-led solutions to climate change,” he said.
“COP27 must agree to a package of action which gets finance to people who urgently need it on the frontlines of this emergency.”