September 20, 2018 — Catholic leaders, at an event co-hosted by the University of San Francisco and the Global Catholic Climate Movement, joined people from around the world for a three-day Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco from Sept. 12-14.
The summit, hosted by California Gov. Jerry Brown, highlighted achievements in implementing the Paris Agreement and called on the global community to "take ambition to the next level," the theme of the gathering. The summit coincided with the Season of Creation, a month-long campaign from September 1 through the feast of St. Francis of Assisi on Oct. 4. The campaign calls on Christians from around the world to care for creation by uniting in prayerful reflection and action.
Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, highlighted actions taken by the U.S. Catholic Church at a forum on Sept. 12 hosted by We Are Still In, a group launched in June 2017 to signal to the world that American leaders are committed to addressing climate change. The group includes nearly 3,000 cities, states, businesses, faith groups, universities and cultural institutions.
More than 750 U.S. Catholic organizations, including over 80 Jesuit institutions, are among those who have signed on to the Catholic Climate Covenant’s Catholic Climate Declaration, declaring their support for the Paris Agreement.
The official Catholic side-event, “Living Laudato Si' through Climate Action,” was co-hosted on Sept. 14 by the University of San Francisco and the Global Catholic Climate Movement. Featuring panel discussions and workshops on what the Catholic Church has done so far to reduce its own environmental impact and care for creation, the event encouraged Catholic institutions to push for policy and economic change to limit global warming.
Father Augusto Zampini Davies, from the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, told those gathered that Laudato Si’ is about common action, because climate change is a global problem requiring global solutions.
“The poor of the earth need radical change, and radical change comes from the spirit,” Fr. Davies said.
Tomás Insua, executive director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, praised USF for leading by example. Some of the university’s initiatives include rooftop solar power systems; more than 140 sustainability/environmental courses; and a climate action plan goal to be carbon neutral by 2050.
Other Jesuit universities have been recognized for their sustainability efforts as well; most recently, Santa Clara University, Seattle University and Loyola Marymount University were ranked in the top 20 of the Sierra Club’s 2018 Cool Schools list. [Sources: NCR, ISN]