Image: Catholic News Agency


Pope laments effects of climate change on the poor


Addressing some 40 participants in a Vatican conference dedicated to “Energy Transition and Care for our Common Home”, Pope Francis said “civilisation requires energy but energy use must not destroy civilisation”.
The two-day conference that ended on Saturday, was promoted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in collaboration with Notre Dame University. Senior executives of leading oil and gas companies including BP, Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil and Eni were present.


In his speech, the Pope told the conference that climate change was a challenge of “epochal proportions” and said that the world needs to come up with an energy mix that combats pollution, eliminates poverty and promotes social justice. He said that modern society with its “massive movement of information, persons and things requires an immense supply of energy,” and still, he pointed out, as many as one billion people lack electricity.


Meeting the energy needs of everyone on Earth, he said, must be done in ways “that avoid creating environmental imbalances resulting in deterioration and pollution gravely harmful to our human family, both now and in the future.”


The Pope lamented the effects of climate change on the poor. He said: “the effects of climate change are not evenly distributed. It is the poor who suffer most from the ravages of global warming, with increasing disruption in the agricultural sector, water insecurity, and exposure to severe weather events.” He raised concerns that many people are being forced to leave their homes as a result, migrating to other places “that may or may not prove welcoming.” He warned that “the transition to accessible and clean energy is a duty that we owe towards millions of our brothers and sisters around the world, poorer countries and generations yet to come.”


The Pope challenged politicians and businesses to “be guided by the pursuit of the long-term common good and concrete solidarity between generations. There should be no room for opportunistic and cynical efforts to gain small partial results in the short run, while shifting equally significant costs and damages to future generations.”
He called on leaders to “have a clear and profound realisation that the earth is a single system and that humanity, likewise, is a single whole.” He quoted Pope Benedict who said that “the book of nature is one and indivisible; it embraces not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development. Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other.”


The importance of acknowledging that we are one human family is key to successfully tackling global warming. The Pope said that “only by thinking and acting with constant concern for this underlying unity that overrides all differences, only by cultivating a sense of universal intergenerational solidarity, can we set out really and resolutely on the road ahead.”


The Pope concluded his address quoting from his Encyclical Laudato Sì: “There is no time to lose: We received the earth as a garden-home from the Creator; let us not pass it on to future generations as a wilderness”.


Click this link to read the Pope’s speech in full: