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LOOK: 3 Times Pope Francis Speaks Up About Climate Change

Aside from powerful prayers, he always calls for action as well.

Pope Francis and religious leaders all over the world made a joint appeal on October 4 for countries to “achieve net-zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.”

Signed at the Vatican’s Hall of Benediction, the appeal is for the upcoming United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP26) from November 1 to 12. Pope Francis presented the signed text to Alok Sharma, president of the 2021 COP 26, and Italy’s foreign minister Luigi Di Maio. (Read: Pope Francis To Visit Scotland, Attend Climate Change Conference In November)

“The world is called to achieve net-zero carbon emissions as soon as possible, with wealthier countries taking the lead in reducing their own emissions and in financing emission reductions from poorer nations,” they said in the 2,000-word appeal signed by almost 40 faith leaders.

This is not the first time Pope Francis has spoken up about climate change. In the previous years, he also encouraged the Catholics to get involved and informed about the “climate crisis.” 

Pope Francis on climate change: Declaration of “climate emergency”

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Activists hold up signs outside the Vatican as Pope Francis meets with oil executives, Friday, June 14, 2019. The meeting marked the second year that Francis has invited oil and financial sector executives to the Vatican to impress upon them his concern that preserving God’s creation is one of the fundamental challenges facing humankind today. (Photo from Claudio Peri/ANSA via AP)

In June 2019, Pope Francis declared a global “climate emergency,” warning of the dangers of global heating. In a meeting with leaders of multinational oil companies at the Vatican, he endorsed the 1.5 °C limit on temperature rises that several countries are aiming for, as he referred to the warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change about its “catastrophic” effects.

“Future generations stand to inherit a greatly spoiled world. Our children and grandchildren should not have to pay the cost of our generation’s irresponsibility,” he stated. 

Pope Francis also emphasized that the failure to act urgently to reduce greenhouse gases would be “a brutal act of injustice toward the poor and future generations.” (Read: Pope Calls Joe Biden to Discuss Immigration, Climate Change)

UN Climate Summit

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Pope Francis (on screen) of the Holy See addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-fifth session. (Photo from UN Photo/Evan Schneider)

During the virtual UN Climate Summit in December 2020, Pope Francis sent a video message to the UN’s High Level Virtual Climate Ambition Summit participants, addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

He discussed the Holy See’s commitment to combating climate change and expressed his support for efforts to work toward net-zero emissions. 

“The effects of the ongoing pandemic and climate change—which are relevant not only for the environment but also for the spheres of ethics, society, economics, and politics—weigh most heavily upon the lives of the poor and vulnerable,” the Pope reiterated. 

Pope Francis also urged world leaders to engage in fighting the climate crisis. “Let us not rob younger generations of their hope for a better future,” he added. (Read: 3 Messages From Pope Francis to Inspire the Youth)

UNESCO forum

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Young Ugandans demonstrate for changes in environmental policies (Photo from AFP or licensors/Vatican News)

In March this year, Pope Francis tackled climate change again during an online forum on Biodiversity organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Read by Archbishop Francesco Follo, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to UNESCO, the Pope’s message was centered around the theme of “Climate change and poverty.”

Pope Francis highlighted the importance of the fight against climate change and poverty, which he describes as “two complex and interdependent objectives,” in light of which it is necessary to redefine a new model of development. (Read: Pope Urges Educators to Work Together Against Climate Change)

He reminded everyone to “act together, taking into account the need to implement a thorough examination of the current development model in order to correct its anomalies and distortions” to combat climate change effectively.

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