I say challenge because there are many things in the encyclical which we have yet to address as a country. For example, one issue Pope Francis addresses in his encyclical is fossil fuel and renewable energy.
He says, "there is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emissions of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels, and developing sources of renewable energy." (READ: IN QUOTES: What Pope Francis says about climate change)
Currently, the Philippines has been approving coal power plants left and right, with more than 50 already approved to be built in the next few years. Surely this is not caring for our common home. (READ: The repeat of Genesis: On climate change and renewable energy)
However, while the government has yet to prove it is sincere in its commitments in tackling climate change, some Filipinos are ready to take on the challenge, together with other Catholics and people from different faiths, as they embark on a journey from Rome to Paris in a call for climate justice.
The Climate Pilgrimage is a continuation of the Climate Walk, which was led by then climate change commissioner Naderev Yeb Sano together with walkers from different organizations. The walk started from Manila (kilometer zero) to Tacloban (ground zero) and commemorated the anniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda.
Throughout the walk, the team stopped to hold climate tours, which educated vulnerable communities about climate change and its impacts. The Climate walk also sought pledges from local government officials to make climate adaptation one of their priorities. (READ: Advocates end 1,000-km Climate Walk at Yolanda ground zero)
This year, as countries are preparing to sign a legally binding agreement in Paris, the walk will continue on a pilgrimage, a show of solidarity and force of different religions coming together to make a stand for people and planet.
"We will come together because the issue of climate change encompasses all religions. This is not just an issue that should be addressed by Catholics but by everyone whose faith believes in the care of the planet," Nitya Saulo, one of the walkers of the Climate Walk who will join the pilgrimage in Paris, said.
"As a Filipino, I will do this journey for my countrymen who have suffered and are suffering from climate change impacts. We seek justice for them," Saulo added.
Naderev Saño will again be leading the pilgrimage this year. "This journey is intended as a reminder to the whole world that the climate crisis is real, affecting lives and livelihoods, and scarring our aspirations for a better future," he said.
Today, as climate talks are currently happening in Bonn in preparation for Paris, whatever our faith may be, whoever we believe in, let us all say a prayer for every person affected by climate change and its impacts, for every negotiator to act on behalf of every person in his/her country, and for every country to sincerely commit to tackling climate change.
After all, as Pope Francis said in Laudato Si, "The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all." - Rappler.com
Renee Juliene Karunungan, 25, is the Advocacy Director of Dakila. Dakila has been campaigning for climate justice since 2009. She is also a climate tracker for Adopt A Negotiator.