CEED on the Pastoral Statement of the CBCP, “A Call for Unity and Action Amid A Climate Emergency and Planetary Crisis”

The Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) lauds the leadership of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in fighting to hasten the decarbonization of all sectors of society as an urgent response to the climate crisis. We commend the CBCP’s commitment to call for action from its congregation and accountability from financial institutions, energy and extractive companies, and government leaders to turn away from fossil fuels, particularly coal and fossil gas, in keeping with the ideals of ecological and social justice, equity, and stewardship of our Common Home, especially in the face of an enduring pandemic.

By setting a critical 2025 deadline for itself and the banks, institutions, and companies it has financial relationships with for concrete action in closing the money pipeline to coal, fossil gas, and destructive extractive activities, the CBCP exhibits a clear understanding of the urgency required by the rapidly closing window to keep global temperature rise no more than 1.5°C by the end of the century. The same could, unfortunately, not be said of other climate actors in the country, despite the Philippines’ extreme vulnerability to climate change impacts.

Moreover, we are thrilled that the CBCP calls for the end not only of coal, which reigned over our power mix in the last decade, but also fossil gas, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) new ‘preferred fuel’ questionably touted as the bridge we need on the way to a more sustainably powered future. Pursued to the full, action against fossil gas financing called for by the Pastoral Statement would be crucial in the fight to protect the Verde Island Passage (VIP) – a marine corridor with bountiful biodiversity akin to an Amazon of the oceans. Batangas, a province encompassed by the VIP, is, today, the epicenter of massive LNG and fossil gas expansion in the country.

We hope that the CBCP’s move of examining the environmental and social impacts of the activities of financial institutions handling the Church’s resources, ensuring investments are made only in genuinely sustainable ventures moving forward, and promoting the use of renewable energy in their own facilities may be an example that will inspire its stakeholders to take a closer look at the impact of their own financial activities. We also celebrate the CBCP’s institutionalization of ecological efforts through the National Laudato Si’ Program, Ecology Desks, and partnerships with schools, as well as their commitment to engage government and other public stakeholders to protect the environment, indigenous groups, and environmental defenders.

CEED is hopeful that this leadership by the Catholic Church will serve as a signal to other civic organizations, movements, and communities that we all stand in unity in this fight against climate destruction. We also hope that this will serve as a signal to powerful institutions such as banks and financial intermediaries, and government bodies, that we all demand accountability, increased ambition, and aggressive action for energy transformation and ecological justice.