New York - Caritas Internationalis and an alliance of Catholic development agencies called on world governments on Tuesday to give top priority to the debate on climate change, with a focus on the poor. The two groups will send a high-ranking delegation to be headed by Britain's Cardinal Keith O'Brien to the climate change summit at UN headquarters in New York on September 22, Caritas said in a press release.
"We urge them to think about the world's poorest people, as bold action is needed to protect them from the devastating impacts of climate change," it said.
O'Brien said separately, "Wealthy have an unequivocal moral duty to reduce their own emissions and help developing countries that are already suffering the consequences of our profligate use of fossil fuels for economic gains."
The UN says the one-day climate change session in New York will draw the largest number of high-level delegations, who will also attend the UN General Assembly's political debate. Many of the leaders will also travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the Group of 20 (G-20) meeting of the world's 20 leading economies.
Studies have shown that the urban poor are most vulnerable to climate change because global warming will heavily impact rising food and energy prices. There are an estimated 1 billion-plus people living on less than 1 dollar a day and atmospheric changes will aggravate their living conditions, studies show.
Caritas Internationalis and the alliance, known by the acronym CIDSE, are the world's largest Catholic groups that devote activities to assisting the poor and developing countries.
Their delegation plans to meet with government leaders to call for actions on alleviating poverty.