Pope calls for urgent climate action

Pope Francis has issued a dramatic warning that “the world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point.”


He made the grim warning while releasing a new document last week declaring urgent action was needed to combat climate change ahead of the UN COP28 summit to be held in Dubai later this year. The document, titled Laudate Deum, or ‘Praise God,’ is an unequivocal rejection of scepticism about global warming and the consequences of human intervention in the environment.


Pope Francis says, “Despite all attempts to deny, conceal, gloss over or relativise the issue, the signs of climate change are here and increasingly evident.


“I feel obliged to make these clarifications, which may appear obvious, because of certain dismissive and scarcely reasonable opinions that I encounter, even within the Catholic Church.


“If we consider that emissions per individual in the United States are about two times greater than those of individuals living in China, and about seven times greater than the average of the poorest countries, we can state that a broad change in the irresponsible lifestyle connected with the Western model would have a significant long-term impact.”


Pope Francis calls for “drastic” and “intense” results from the Dubai summit, including “a decisive acceleration of energy transition, with effective commitments subject to ongoing monitoring,” as well as new commitments for the “necessary transition towards clean energy sources such as wind and solar energy, and the abandonment of fossil fuels.”


Without such outcomes, the pope warns, COP28 “will be a great disappointment and jeopardise whatever good has been achieved thus far. Although the measures that we can take now are costly, the cost will be all the more burdensome the longer we wait,” he adds.


The 7,000-word document, technically an “apostolic exhortation,” is a follow-up to the pontiff’s 2015 encyclical letter Laudato si’.


“No one can ignore the fact that in recent years we have witnessed extreme weather phenomena, frequent periods of unusual heat, drought and other cries of protest on the part of the earth that are only a few palpable expressions of a silent disease that affects everyone,” says Pope Francis.


“It is no longer possible to doubt the human – ‘anthropic’ – origin of climate change.”


The pontiff also points to other signs of rapid climate change, such as a reduction in ice sheets, changes in ocean currents, deforestation in tropical rainforests and the melting of permafrost in Russia.


“It is not possible to conceal the correlation of these global climate phenomena and the accelerated increase in greenhouse gas emissions, particularly since the mid-twentieth century,” the pope says. “The overwhelming majority of scientists specialising in the climate support this correlation, and only a very small percentage of them seek to deny the evidence.”


Pope Francis calls for a new version of multilateralism in international affairs, which he insists should not be confused with one-world government or a new “elite with excessive power.”


In spiritual terms, the pope also suggests that solutions to the climate crisis will require a new humility on the part of individuals and societies.


Download and read Laudate Deum here.


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