Catholic World News

Caritas leader: 'Ordinary men and women' will pay price of addressing climate change

June 30, 2009

The leader of Caritas Internationalis, the international consortium of Catholic relief agencies, warned in a recent address that attempts to address climate change will reduce the standard of living of “the ordinary men and women of the developed world.”

Secretary-General Lesley-Anne Knight said that “even if it is too early to say for certain that man-made climate change is causing an increase in humanitarian emergencies, one thing is certain: If it continues, it most certainly will.” She grants that

there is disagreement over whether the increasing scale and frequency of climate-related humanitarian emergencies can be scientifically attributed to man-made climate change. But a number of points are clear: We are witnessing an increase in climate-related emergencies. Increasing climate variability is making some parts of the world more susceptible to climate-related disasters. Factors such as poverty and conflict are making populations more vulnerable to the effects of climate-related disasters.

Ms. Knight added:

The unpalatable truth is that there will be a price to be paid for a solution to climate change. And that price will have to be paid by the ordinary men and women of the developed world, who have benefitted from the growth and development that is causing climate change. Like the global financial crisis, the climate change crisis can be seen in terms of excessive borrowing: we have borrowed from the atmosphere and biodiversity of the future. And now these loans will have to be repaid.

This means, quite simply, that high consumers will have to accept a reduced standard of living. This does not mean they will be descending into poverty-- but it may mean driving smaller cars, taking fewer holidays abroad, not eating exotic fruits and vegetables all year round, and maybe even paying a little more tax.


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