In a message recorded exclusively for the BBC, Pope Francis invited world leaders gathered next week at the UN climate conference in Glasgow to provide “effective responses” to the environmental emergency and offer “concrete hope” to future generations.
Speaking from the Vatican for BBC Radio 4’s Thought of the Day, the Pope spoke of crises including the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and economic difficulties, and urged the world to respond to them with radical vision and decisions, to not the “wasted opportunity” that current challenges present.
“We can tackle these crises by falling back on isolationism, protectionism and exploitation”, said the pontiff, “or we can see in them a real possibility of change”.
He evoked the need for “a renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world”, adding that “each of us – whoever and wherever we are – can do their part in changing our collective response to the unprecedented threat of climate change and to the degradation of our common home “.
The Pope will later meet US President Joe Biden at the Vatican. Biden’s domestic climate policies remain pending afterwards his party has postponed the vote on its spending plans.
The message recalls the emphasis Francis placed on environmentalism throughout his pontificate.
He often evoked the climate crisis in speeches and in 2015 he published an encyclical, or papal document, entitled Laudato si ‘, focusing on the issue. In the text, subtitled On Care for our Common Home, he condemned environmental destruction, stressed the need for mitigation measures, and gave an unequivocal acceptance that climate change was largely man-made.
The letter was published ahead of the 2015 UN climate conference in Paris, COP21, and was seen as having some impact on leaders’ drive for a deal.
It was evoked during the discussions, also by the president of Paraguay, who spoke of the Pope’s “dramatic warning that we are facing a crisis and we need to protect the world we count on for life”.
Six years later, world leaders are preparing to gather in Glasgow for this year’s climate summit, COP26.
With growing evidence that the commitments made in Paris to keep the global temperature rise “preferably at 1.5 degrees Celsius, relative to pre-industrial levels” are not being met, Pope Francis again focused on the issue, hoping that his speech have a similar impact.
COP26 Climate Summit – The Basics
- Climate change is one of the most pressing problems in the world. Governments must promise more ambitious gas cuts for warming if we are to prevent greater global temperature rises.
- The Glasgow Summit is where change could happen. You have to watch out for the promises made by the world’s biggest polluters, such as the United States and China, and whether the poorest countries are getting the support they need.
- All our lives will change. The decisions made here could impact our work, how we heat our homes, what we eat and how we travel.
Read more about the COP26 Summit here.
Earlier this month, he gathered nearly 40 religious leaders from around the world in the Vatican to sign a joint appeal calling on COP26 to deliver on commitments on global warming, carbon neutrality and support for poorer nations for transition. towards clean energy. In return, the leaders pledged to educate and inform their faithful about the climate emergency.
There was an expectation that the Pope would attend the conference in Glasgow, telling reporters over the summer that his speech was being written. But at the last minute the Vatican announced that the 84-year-old pope would not go, without giving any reasons.
This is a blow to the organizers of COP26, who hoped that its presence would give further weight to a summit dubbed “the world’s best last chance to keep uncontrolled climate change in check”.
- Hear the full BBC message from Pope Francis
- What the COP26 climate summit could mean for all of us
And so this message through the BBC is meant to give her guidance from afar.
“Every crisis requires a vision … to rethink the future of the world”, he said, urging “radical decisions” and “a renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world”.
“The most important lesson we can draw from these crises is our need to build together, so that there are no longer any political borders, barriers or walls to hide behind.”
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