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Indonesians demand action on climate change

Hundreds of protesters gather in advance of UN conference in Paris

Indonesians demand action on climate change

Protesters in Indonesia demand action on climate change during a rally in Jakarta Nov. 29. (Photo by Ryan Dagur)

Hundreds of Catholics took to the streets of Jakarta Nov. 29 to push for action on climate change on the eve of a U.N. climate summit in Paris.

Priests, nuns, brothers and seminarians joined laypeople in the protest, part of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, a community of thousands of Catholics responding to Pope Francis' call to action in the encyclical, Laudato si'.

"This action is to deliver the voice of global citizens and to push world leaders meeting in Paris to take urgent action on climate change and to understand the importance of saving the Earth," Divine Word Father Paulus Rahmat, Jakarta coordinator of the movement, told ucanews.com.

"We are urging world leaders to produce a binding agreement to keep the global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius so that we can live well," said the priest, also coordinator of VIVAT International-Indonesia, an NGO that focuses on social justice and the environment.

The Jakarta march took place a day before some 150 world leaders were scheduled to meet in Paris for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change or COP21, being held Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

Similar marches took place in at least 150 countries around the world, Catholic News Service reported.

Azas Tigor Nainggolan, who helped coordinate the march, said there was an urgent need for action in Indonesia, citing the haze from wildfires on Sumatra and Kalimantan islands.

"Imagine, for three months, our brothers and sisters on these islands not seeing the Sun, not breathing fresh air. I think this shows how badly men have damaged the Earth. This Earth is being destroyed by palm oil companies in Indonesia," Nainggolan said.

For Sacred Heart Sister Regina, climate change is an important issue for all people.

"We need to change people. That's why we need a joint movement. It can't be done by small groups only. This movement is for humanity," she said.

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Hundreds of protesters gather in Jakarta Nov. 29 to demand action on climate change. (Photo by Ryan Dagur)


Joint movement      

The rally also involved activists from at least 30 organizations, including the Indonesian Forum for the Environment.

"We joined this action because we want the climate summit in Paris to be a momentum for all parties including the Indonesian government to stop destroying the environment," Edo Rahman, the forum's campaign manager, told ucanews.com.

He lamented that the Indonesian government hasn't done little to combat climate change.

"They still use natural resources and fail to pay attention to environmental preservation. All they think about is how development programs can be controlled and become ongoing ones," he said.

Also joining the action was entertainer Melanie Subono, a noted environmental activist. She said climate change is a crucial issue that is misunderstood by many people.

"I support this action because it helps many people understand what climate change is," she told ucanews.com.

People should realize that they must take responsibility for the environment and think of ways of protecting the Earth, she said.

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