(Rio de Janeiro, 21 June 2012)Today, a high level delegation of Church and civil society leaders encouraged Poland to take a new path towards a more sustainable society in a meeting with Polish Under-Secretary of State for the Environment Beata Jaczewska. The delegation, organised by the international alliance of Catholic development agencies CIDSE, also urged European Commissioner Connie Hedegaard to make sure the EU reaffirms its role as climate leader to make low carbon societies a reality.
The Church and civil society leaders told Beata Jaczewska, who is leading the Rio+20 negotiations on behalf of Poland, it is time to build a more sustainable and just world, in which all people have a chance to survive and to prosper.
“Farming families in Bangladesh suffer the consequences of climate change caused by industrialized countries. Poland doesn’t have to go the old way, it should grab the opportunity to trace a new path instead, taking leadership to build a society where people live in dignity and in harmony with creation,” Bishop Theotonius Gomes, President of Caritas Bangladesh, said. The livelihoods of millions of Bangladeshi are threatened by rising sea levels and erratic rain.
Ms Jaczewska told the delegation Poland would support the EU 2050 low carbon roadmap and a 30% CO2 emission reduction commitment by 2020 under certain conditions. Both are urgently needed to take the EU towards low carbon societies. Raising climate ambition is not only morally right, it also presents Poland with new opportunities, delegation members told Jaczewska. She told the church and civil society leaders it is important to raise awareness in Poland about climate change.
“The use of renewable sources would make Poland more energy independent. Moving away from coal could also make savings related to pollution, like public health care and water treatment. This would result in higher quality of life,” Misereor’s climate expert Anika Schroeder said.
According to the European Energy Agency*, Poland could save between $13-23bn annually on costs related to pollution of its power and industrial plants.
In the meeting with European Commissioner Hedegaard the delegation stressed that solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions should be specific to the context of each country, to avoid putting developing countries under excessive strain.
CIDSE Secretary General Bernd Nilles also pointed out that a transition to a new economic model requires adequate funding:
“There is no time to dilly-dally. Leaders failed to fill the UN Green Climate fund in Durban and put no money on the table here in Rio. As a climate champion, the EU must show to way to a more sustainable world by being the first to dedicate money to the fund and by implementing a Financial Transaction Tax,” Nilles said.
Pictures of the meetings are available via www.flickr.com/cidse