Caritas welcomes historic climate conference agreement


13 December 2015

Caritas welcomes historic climate conference agreement

The historic agreement reached at the global climate conference in Paris today has been welcomed by Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand as a strong and transformative deal that provides hope for a better future.

“Pacific voices have been heard at this conference. It is through the actions of civil society and small island nations that the agreement recognises we need to keep a global temperature limit well below 2C, and work towards a limit of 1.5C to protect the most vulnerable states,” says Caritas Director Julianne Hickey.

“We came into this conference with five key recommendations for a strong, global, legally binding agreement, and this agreement has gone a long way towards addressing most of our concerns. In the words of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’: All is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.”

In its recently released State of the Environment report on Oceania, Caritas called for an agreement that would aim to keep temperature rise below 1.5C; promote a framework for climate change adaptation for the most vulnerable; listen to the voices of the poor and provide for their ongoing participation; provide stronger climate finance with robust accounting; and recognise human rights issues in relation to climate changes.

“Although it is regrettable that human rights and the rights of indigenous people are not referenced in this agreement, we intend to hold governments to account,” Mrs Hickey says.

“This agreement sends a bold signal to the world – to local and national governments, to businesses, to communities and individuals – that we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and efficiently as possible. 
At the moment, it offers hope, though not security, for the most vulnerable.”

Caritas is calling on the international community, especially the affluent and those most able, to redouble their efforts to protect our common home. In New Zealand, there is also a need to ‘step up’ and look at current carbon emission reduction targets.

“We are a small contributor, but we can be much better. An 11% reduction on 1990 levels is not good enough. It shouldn’t be ‘bought’ through overseas carbon credits. All countries face challenges in meeting this agreement. We now need a concrete, robust plan to significantly cut our greenhouse gas emissions, and scale up our own financial assistance to help more vulnerable nations, especially in the Pacific,” Mrs Hickey says.

In spite of the Government’s timidity, Caritas welcomes the commitment to help people in the Pacific move to renewable energy. However, there is an urgent need to increase climate change adaptation funding and ensure it reaches those most in need

“While the timeframe and level of ambition is far short of what we would like, it has sent a clear signal that we are committed to moving to a low carbon future, and we at Caritas, alongside our Pacific neighbours, will work for its full implementation and necessary strengthening as time goes on,” Mrs Hickey says.

To arrange interviews and for more information, please contact Communications, Marketing and Fundraising Advisor Crispin Anderlini on 021 190 9908 or email to


Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ agency for justice, peace and development, and incorporates Mahitahi - Catholic Overseas Volunteers. We are working for a world free of poverty and injustice through community development, advocacy, education, and emergency relief.

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is a member of Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 165 Catholic aid, development and social justice agencies active in over 200 countries and territories

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