Climate change: industrialised countries must take responsibility – Cardinal Onaiyekan

Cardinal John Onaiyekan
Cardinal John Onaiyekan

By Atâyi Babs

The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria,  Cardinal John Onaiyekan, said the industrialized world needs to take the lead in tackling carbon emissions, and not try to force poorer countries to “stay where they are.”

The Cardinal was speaking on Tuesday on the sidelines of a workshop on climate change being held at the Vatican.
“The rich countries who have already gone very far ahead of the poor countries ought not to be demanding of that the poor countries must still stay where they are for fear of damaging the environment, when it is they who are damaging the environment in more than 80% of the situation,” Cardinal Onaiyekan added.

“The rest of the world will have to recognize and acknowledge the needs of the poor countries in this whole discussion, because despite all that we are saying about reducing carbon emission, we are only talking about reducing, not eliminating – which means even America, China, Russia, Europe, they are all still throwing carbon emissions into the air – so they should allow a small country like Nigeria to start its own factories,” he said.

The meeting, sponsored by the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Sciences, brought together scientists, political leaders, and religious figures to talk about climate change, and the Sustainable Development Goals being proposed by the United Nations.

Cardinal Onaiyekan averred that the “first duty” of religious leaders is to be “properly informed,” and praised the presentations. “We begin to realize that since this affects every living people on the earth, the religious people have their own role to play,” he said.

He said it was their duty to speak about “the danger that is hanging over everybody”, not only to their own congregations, but also to those who make policy decisions.


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