Independent Catholic News The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace recieved an open letter on Thursday from CIDSE, (an alliance of 18 Catholic aid and development agencies) which was written by communities in Latin America affected by mining operations. The affected communities recently participated in a meeting called ‘In union with God we hear a plea’, organized by CIDSE and the Latin American network, Iglesias y Mineria (Churches and Mining).
The open letter follows:
29 July 2015 Open letter of the communities affected by mining operations, received in Rome by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
On July 17-19, 2015 the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (PCJP), in collaboration with the Latin American network Churches and Mining, organized a meeting in Rome with representatives of communities affected by mining activities titled ‘In union with God, we hear a cry.’
The death toll among refugees attempting to reach the UK from Calais has risen dramatically in recent days. Medical staff in France say they are struggling to cope with the number of seriously injured migrants who are taking ever greater risks to get into the Channel Tunnel.
More than 3,000 men, women and children who have fled war and persecution in Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Sudan Ethiopia and Afghanistan are now crowded into a makeshift camp in Calais. Many of the Muslim and Christian migrants have been sharing food and medicines. Some have set up shops or organised activities for the children. Christian migrants are now building a small chapel.
Four NGOs: Secours Catholique (Catholic Aid), Secours Islamique Francais (French Islamic Aid), Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World), and Solidarite Internationale (International Solidarity), have now joined forces to launch an emergency humanitarian plan to assist these desperate people.
CAPE TOWN, Jul 28 2015 (IPS) – Anti-nuclear energy activists are up in arms, and have taken to vigils outside South Africa’s parliament in Cape Town to protest against President Jacob Zuma’s push for nuclear development.
The protest has been building since September 2014 when Zuma struck a deal with Russia’s Rossatom to build up to eight nuclear power stations in South Africa. The stations would cost the country around 1 trillion South African rands (84 billion dollars).
As the protests mount, the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), an interdenominational faith-based environment initiative led by Bishop Geoff Davies, has said the government’s nuclear policy is not only foolish but immoral.
In the summer of 2014, the Obama Administration responded to an increase in the arrival of families from Central America by expanding its capacity to imprison asylum-seeking families. Over the course of a year, our country went from having less than 100 family detention beds to having 3,000. More than 2,900 of these beds are owned by private prison companies.
Persons of faith and persons of conscience organized against this increase in the use of family detention. As a result, the Administration has made small concessions and changes in the way they implement family detention. On July 24th Judge Dolly Gee, in the Central District of California, ruled that the government’s use of family detention was in material breach of a legal agreement governing the treatment of immigrant children. This decision would result in the release of almost every mother and child now in detention and could be the tipping point that finally ends family detention.
Today is your opportunity to tell the Administration to not appeal this ruling. Add your name to this letter to let President Barack Obama, Secretary Jeh Johnson of the Department of Homeland Security, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch know that you want them to #EndFamilyDetention and you want #NoDHSAppeal of this case.
NAIROBI, Jul 27 2015 (IPS) – Alexander Muyekhi, a construction worker from Ebubayi village in the heart of Vihiga County in Western Kenya, and his school-going children can now enjoy a tiny solar kit supplied by the British-based Azuri Technologies to light their house and play their small FM radio.
This has saved the family from use of kerosene tin-lamps, which are dim and produce unfriendly smoke, but many other residents in the village – and elsewhere in the country – are not so lucky because they cannot afford the 1000 shillings (10 dollars) deposit for the kit, and 80 weekly instalments of 120 shillings (1.2 dollars).
“Such climate-friendly kits are very important, particularly for the rural poor,” said Philip Kilonzo, Technical Advisor for Natural Resources & Livelihoods at ActionAid International Kenya. “But for families who survive on less than a dollar per day, it becomes a tall order for them to pay the required deposit, as well as the weekly instalments.”
It was due to such bottlenecks that Dr Wilbur Ottichilo, a member of parliament for Emuhaya constituency in Western Kenya, and chair of the Parliamentary Network on Renewable Energy and Climate Change, moved a motion in parliament to enact a Climate Change Bill, which has already been discussed, and is now being subjected to public scrutiny before becoming law.
“Once it becomes law, we will deliberately use it as a legal instrument to reduce or exempt taxes on such climate-friendly gadgets and on projects that are geared towards low carbon growth,” said Ottichilo.
While Kenya makes a low net contribution to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the country’s Draft National Climate Change Framework Policy notes that a significant number of priority development initiatives will impact on the country’s levels of emissions.
In collaboration with development partners, the country is already investing in increased geothermal electricity in the energy sector to counter this situation, switching movement of freight from road to rail in the transport sector, reforestation in the forestry sector, and agroforestry in the agricultural sector.
“With a legal framework in place, it will be possible to increase such projects that are geared towards mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change,” said Ottichilo.
The Climate Change Bill seeks to provide the legal and institutional framework for mitigation and adaption to the effects of climate change, to facilitate and enhance response to climate change and to provide guidance and measures for achieving low carbon climate-resilient development.
“We received the Bill from the National Assembly towards the end of March, we studied it for possible amendments, and we subjected it to public scrutiny as required by the constitution before it was read in the senate for the second time on Jul. 22, 2015,” Ekwee Ethuro, Speaker of the Senate, told IPS.
“After this, we are going to return it to the National Assembly so that it can be forwarded to the president for signing it into law.”
The same bill was first rejected by former President Mwai Kibaki on the grounds that there had been a lack of public involvement in its creation. “We are very careful this time not to repeat the same mistake,” said Ethuro.
Under the law, a National Climate Change Council is to be set up which, among others, will coordinate the formulation of national and county climate change action plans, strategies and policies, and make them available to the public.
“This law is a very important tool for civil society and all other players because it will give us an opportunity to manage and even fund-raise for climate change adaptation and mitigation projects,” said, John Kioli, chair of the Kenya Climate Change Working Group (KCCWG).
Evidence of climate change in Kenya is based on statistical analysis of trends in historical records of temperature, rainfall, sea level rise, mountain glacier coverage, and climate extremes.
Temperature and rainfall records from the Kenya Meteorological Department over the last 50 years provide clear evidence of climate change in Kenya, with temperatures generally showing increasing trends in many parts of the country starting from the early 1960s. This has also been confirmed by data in the State of the Environment reports published by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).
As a result, the country now experiences prolonged droughts, unreliable rainfall patterns, floods, landslides and many more effects of climate change, which experts say will worsen with time.
Furthermore, 83 percent of Kenya’s landmass is either arid or semi-arid, making the country even more vulnerable to climate change, whose impacts cut across diverse aspects of society, economy, health and the environment.
“We seek to embrace climate-friendly food production systems such as use of greenhouses, we need to minimise post-harvest losses and food wastages, and we need to adapt to new climate friendly technologies,” said Ottichilo. “All these will work very well for us once we have a supporting legal environment.”
Every year Pax Christi members around the country commemorate the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the 6th & 9th August. This year is even more important as we mark the 70th anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons and mourn that they are still with us – 70 Years on!
In 1945 the death toll in Hiroshima was estimated at between 100,000 – 180,000 and in Nagasaki between 50,000 and 100,000. 70 years on and nine countries, including the UK, possess more than 17,000 nuclear weapons. Trident, the UK weapons programme, is eight times more powerful than the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.
Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi, says: “This is an ideal time to engage people in thinking about the reality of nuclear weapons today. Tragically, they have not been confined to the history books: they are still with us and as Christians we should be doing all we can to ensure that our Government does not renew its commitment to Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons programme, in 2016. Pope Francis has reminded us that spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations and that resources would be better invested in the areas of integral human development and the fight against poverty.”
This year Pax Christi members in London, Liverpool, Coventry and Kent will hold vigils and run information stalls on the anniversaries of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In London, a stall and times of prayer will be held outside Westminster Cathedral on 6th August between 10.00 am – 5.00pm and on 9th August between 1.30 pm and 5.00pm. In addition, the Pax Christi ICON of Peace will be on display in St Patrick’s Chapel, Westminster Cathedral, for private prayer and reflection for peace, between 3rd and 17th August.
In Liverpool there will be a stall and display in the Metropolitan Cathedral between 10.30am and 3.00pm on 6th and 9th August.
In Coventry, the Annual Hiroshima Vigil will be held in the Chapel of Unity at Coventry Cathedral at 6.00pm on 6th August. In Aylesford Priory, Kent, a vigil will be held in the Choir Chapel from 8.20pm on 6th August.
You can find resources to help you plan your own Hiroshma or Nagasaki event here
In what many believe is a first in U.S. history, Congress has decided to give away a sacred Native American site to a massive foreign mining company. (1) We’re joining a last ditch effort to save this land before copper mining begins and this land is irreversibly destroyed.
Republicans in Arizona have been attempting for years to trade away the beautiful national forest lands at Oak Flat in Arizona, which are considered holy by the Apache tribe. And until recently, they’ve failed for lack of support. But last December, in a deeply cynical and undemocratic move, Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake snuck last minute language into a must-pass defense bill transferring the land directly to the Rio Tinto mining company. (2)
Apache tribal leaders are planning a caravan to Washington, D.C. this month to protest this outrageous land giveaway. We’re joining thousands of activists to help amplify their message and pressure Congress to stop the Apache land grab.
Sign the petition: Stop the Apache land grab and protect Native American holy land from copper mining.