Catholics in Australia join global movement to curb climate change

Australia's Catholics are preparing to step up campaigns to address climate change ahead of an expected call to action by Pope Francis.

The Global Catholic Climate Movement, an international coalition of Catholic groups including Catholic Earthcare Australia, was launched on Thursday to bolster support for a global climate treaty at the Paris summit planned for December.

Jacqui Remond, director of Catholic Earthcare Australia, said Catholics numbered one in four Australians and the time is ripe for them to push for greater action on curbing global warming.

"Looking at the leadership and the governance we have in Australia right now, there isn't a lot of hope coming from the policies and the agenda that's set," Ms Remond said.

However, Ms Remond said hope is coming from abroad with Pope Francis expected to release the first encyclical on ecology as soon as March. The doctrinal directive is likely to focus on the damage to humanity and ecosystems caused by climate change.

"[The encyclical] has a significant influence because it sets a benchmark for learning for everyone in the church, which includes the cardinals, the bishops, the clergy, the lay people," Ms Remond said. "This message will have an incredible ripple effect through the church and beyond."

Ms Remond said Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI had also spoken out about climate change, with the latter installing solar panels on church buildings in Rome and making the Vatican the world's first carbon-neutral state.

The new movement will present a statement to Pope Francis during his visit this week to the Philippines. The trip is likely to highlight the suffering of Filipinos hit by typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded.

The encyclical on ecology is aimed at adding momentum to climate change negotiations over cuts to greenhouse gas emissions countries will pledge at the Paris summit.

"That's going to create real change that's really needed, and that's great," Ms Remond said.

Catholic Earthcare is the ecological agency of the Australian Bishops Conference.

The story Catholics in Australia join global movement to curb climate change first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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