However, despite an overwhelmingly positive atmosphere in Lima, many lament that progress has been slow. The bishops outlined in their statement the importance of “deepening of the discourse at the COP20 in Lima, to ensure concrete decisions are taken at COP21 to overcome the climate challenge and to set us on new sustainable pathways”.
Many suggest that this effort could galvanize the Catholic community—1.2 billion people worldwide—to embrace a move away from fossil fuels and transition towards 100% renewable energy. The hope is that this statement has the potential to make a serious difference in the fight against climate change by reaching Catholics worldwide and engaging them in the movement away from fossil fuels. Catholic bishops are concerned with the environmental effects of fossil fuels, particularly the consequences of carbonization on the world’s most vulnerable groups.
The religious leaders are advocating for change to protect communities suffering from the harshest impacts of climate change, such as those living in the Pacific Islands and coastal regions. President of the Peruvian Bishops Conference, Archbishop Monsignor Salvador Piñeiro García-Calderón said:
"We bishops from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe have engaged in intense dialogue on the issue of climate change, because we can see it’s the poorest people who are impacted the most, despite the fact they’ve contributed the least to causing it. As the church, we see and feel an obligation for us to protect creation and to challenge the misuse of nature. We felt this joint statement had to come now because Lima is a milestone on the way to Paris, and Paris has to deliver a binding agreement."
The Catholic Church continued to hammer its more radical approach to climate action, arguing that nations should aim to keep global temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, rather than the 2 degree Celsius threshold supported by many UN negotiators.
The Bishops went on to assert that a climate treaty would have economic as well as environmental effects: "In viewing objectively the destructive effects of a financial and economic order based on the primacy of the market and profit, which has failed to put the human being and the common good at the heart of the economy, one must recognise the systemic failures of this order and the need for a new financial and economic order."