Pope Francis: ‘Path to climate resilience impeded by short-term greed’

Pope Francis addresses participants in a Vatican summit on the climate crisis, and encourages the international community to leverage the regenerative power of nature to move toward climate resilience.

May 16, 2024

Pope Francis greets participants in the climate summit (Vatican Media)

By Devin Watkins
The Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Sciences is hosting a three-day summit in the Vatican that brings together mayors, governors, and experts to explore the theme: “From Climate Crisis to Climate Resilience.”

Pope Francis held an audience with participants in the summit on Thursday, the second day of the event.

In his address, the Pope lamented the worsening data regarding climate change, calling for urgent action “to protect people and nature.”

As developing nations suffer more directly the effects of climate change, he asked the political leaders from various nations whether “we are working for a culture of life or for a culture of death”.

“The wealthier nations, around 1 billion people, produce more than half the heat trapping pollutants,” said the Pope. “On the contrary, the 3 billion poorer people contribute less than 10%, yet they suffer 75% of the resulting damage.”

From victims of climate crisis to agents for change
Pope Francis recalled that destruction of the environment is “an offense against God” and a “structural sin” that endangers all people.

“We find ourselves faced with systemic challenges that are distinct yet interconnected: climate change, the loss of biodiversity, environmental decay, global disparities, lack of food security and threats to the dignity of the peoples affected by them,” he said.

Each of these issues, added the Pope, must be addressed urgently and collectively in order to safeguard the world’s poor, especially women and children, who bear a disproportionate burden.

Yet, he noted, those same women are not merely victims of climate change but also a “powerful force for resilience and adaptation.”

Combatting greed and short-termism
The Pope decried the cogs of global and national politics that are impeding actions to protect the most vulnerable exposed to climate change.

“An orderly progress,” he said, “is being held back by the greedy pursuit of short-term gains by polluting industries and by the spread of disinformation, which generates confusion and obstructs collective efforts for a change in course.”

Communities are dissolving and families are being forcibly dispersed, he said, adding that atmospheric pollution claims millions of lives each year.

Around 3.5 billion people are susceptible to climate change and therefore more likely to migrate, putting their lives at risk during “desperate journeys.”

Appeal for political shift
In response to this crisis, Pope Francis added his voice to the heartfelt appeal launched by the members of the summit.

With them, he called for a “universal approach and resolute activity” to bring about a political shift in direction.

The Pope also highlighted the need to “invert the global warming curve” by halving the rate of warming over the next 25 years.

Finally, he urged policy makers to harness the regenerative power of nature in order to remove vast quantites of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. He mentioned especially the Amazon Basin and the Congo, peat bogs, mangroves, oceans, coral reefs, farmlands, and glacial icecaps.

“This holistic approach can combat climate change, while also confronting the double crisis of the loss of biodiversity and inequality by cultivating the ecosystems that sustain life,” he said.

Urgency, compassion, determination
In conclusion, Pope Francis invited efforts to create synergy and global solidarity, as well as a “new financial architecture,” to respond to the needs of the global South and island states affected by climate emergencies.

“There is a need to act with urgency, compassion and determination, since the stakes could not be higher.”--Vatican News

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