Pope Francis began his five day tour of three African countries – Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic –  on November 25th.

This was a visit that not only African catholics and people of faith have been looking forward to, it was also an important event for civil society organisations and governments. At the headquarters of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) in Nairobi, justice, peace and the existing unjust economic structures stood out in the Pope’s speech.

Just days before the beginning of COP21 in Paris, Pope Francis highlighted the need for governments to really shift towards an energy system that is not anchored on fossil fuels:

“COP21 represents an important stage in the process of developing a new energy system which depends on a minimal use of fossil fuels, aims at energy efficiency and makes use of energy sources with little or no carbon content.”

At the heart of the injustice in many parts of the world, poverty, environmental degradation and climate change are not random but direct results of a global economic models centered on perpetual growth, consumption and individualism powered by the extractive industries.

We know that we can’t put all our eggs in the COP21 basket. Achieving a minimal or no-carbon energy system will require all of us across sectors to pull together in holding governments and corporations accountable – after all, they are the ones who benefit from the fossil fuel industry and the ones who allow it to operate the way it does.

We need to change the idea that the climate change crisis is to only be tackled by environmental organisations. The recent resolution of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to explore withdrawing their investments from companies that exploit fossil fuels, is an example of how faith groups can do their part in the climate movement through Divestment.

We believe that Divestment is not only a moral duty but is also a way to allow the growing renewable energy industry to flourish.

In a letter that was hand-delivered to the Apostolic Nunciature in Nairobi for the Pope by a youth delegation of 350 Kenya, the connection is made clear: because of the grave threat of climate change and the fossil fuel sector’s unyielding refusal to change, it is no longer right for religious groups to profit from investments in such companies. We appeal for your support for the global divestment movement from the fossil fuel industry and to call for a just transition towards a world powered by 100% renewable energy.

The letter also included a call to Save Lamu, a World Heritage site which which has more than 700 years of culture and history. The county is facing an imminent construction of a multi-purpose terminal and 1,000 MW coal power plant.

This is an appeal that the climate movement made extensive to world governments gathered under the UNFCCC banner at the COP21 last weekend  as 750,000 people around the globe took part in the Global Climate March.

We already knew this would be a Road through Paris, and not “to Paris”. We do hope that there will be a binding agreement coming out of the climate summit, but we also know that completely holding our breath may be more detrimental for the movement.

Our movement is led by people across the globe and we are determined to put climate change in the limelight and call for a just transition away from fossil-fuel dependency and into a 100% renewable world by 2050.

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