by Brian O’Connell
An Irish Dominican nun has urged people to do what they can in their daily lives to help prevent irreversible climate change.
Dublin born Sister Christina McGarry, who travelled to Paris as a CAFOD volunteer to attend the climate summit, told the Irish World: “We all have to do something, we can’t leave it up to governments. Action at an individual level – such as recycling or cutting down on car use – has to continue.”
Negotiators in Paris representing 195 governments reached agreement last Saturday night after two weeks of talks.
They pledged to keep the increase in global temperatures “well below” 2 degrees centigrade and that countries should “endeavour to limit” them even more, to 1.5 degrees.
The deal also requires governments to undertake regular reviews of the actions they have taken to reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions, with the first global stock-take to take place in 2018.
Sister Christina, who is based in Cricklewood in North London, hailed the agreement as historic and hopeful: “It was wonderful to be there and feel part of it, seeing the delegates arriving at the conference centre at Le Bourget and taking part in the big climate justice rally at the Eiffel Tower with thousands of campaigners from all over the world.”
She also heard firsthand from African campaigners about the devastating effects of mining on agriculture in Lesotho and from South American climate activists who told her about the traditions of indigenous people “who ask permission from Mother Earth before they take anything from the land.”
Travelling on the Eurostar train back to London, Sister Christina told the Irish World: “It was a fantastic experience meeting people from all over the world. The enthusiasm of the young people was particularly inspiring.” CAFOD has welcomed the Paris agreement saying it “opens a new chapter for action on climate change”.
Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy at CAFOD, said “For poor people living on the front-line of climate change this deal offers hope for a brighter future, but not yet the security that we’ll get there fast enough.”
• You can find out more about CAFOD’s climate change campaign at www.cafod.org.uk