- Mark Lowen
- Correspondent in Rome, BBC
In a message recorded exclusively for the BBC, Pope Francis called on world leaders who will meet next week at the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, to provide “effective responses” to the emergency. and offer “concrete hope” to future generations.
Speaking from the Vatican for the BBC’s Radio 4 Day Thought segment, the Pope addressed crises including the covid-19 pandemic, climate change and economic difficulties, and urged the world to respond to them with vision. and radical decisions, to don’t “waste opportunities” that current challenges present.
“We could face these crises by retreating into isolationism, protectionism and exploitation,” the pontiff said, “or we could see in them a real opportunity for change.”
The religious leader evoked the need for “a renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world,” adding that “each of us – whoever we are and wherever we are – can play a role in changing our collective response to the unprecedented threat of climate change and the degradation of our common home. ”
The Supreme Pontiff met this Friday with the President of the United States, Joe Biden, at the Vatican. Biden’s internal climate policies remain suspended after his party postponed a crucial vote on his spending plans.
The message is a reminder of the emphasis that Francisco has placed on environmental issues throughout his pontificate.
He has regularly evoked the climate crisis in his speeches, and in 2015 published an encyclical, or papal document, called Laudato Si, which focuses on the problem. In the text, subtitled “On the care of our common home”, he denounced environmental destruction, highlighted the need to take mitigating measures and unequivocally accepted that climate change was mainly produced by humanity.
The letter was issued before the 2015 UN Climate Conference in Paris, COP21, and is seen to have had some impact in moving leaders toward an agreement.
It was mentioned during the discussions, as by the then president of Paraguay, Horacio Cartes, who referred to the “dramatic warning (from the Pope) that we face a crisis and we must protect the world we depend on to live on.”
Six years later, world leaders are preparing to meet in Glasgow for this year’s climate summit, COP26.
With mounting evidence that the commitments made in Paris to keep the global temperature rise “preferably below 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels” they are not being fulfilledPope Francis focuses once again on the issue, hoping that his intervention will have a similar impact.
Earlier this month, he summoned nearly 40 religious leaders from around the world to the Vatican to sign a joint petition appealing for COP26 to deliver on its promises on global warming, carbon neutrality and supporting the poorest nations in their transition to clean energy. In return, religious leaders pledged to educate and inform their parishioners of the climate emergency.
There was expectation about the Pope’s attendance at the conference in Glasgow, when he told the press over the summer that he was writing his speech. However, at the last minute the Vatican announced that the 84-year-old pontiff would not be going, without giving a reason.
That will be a blow to the organizers of COP26, who were counting on their presence to give greater weight to the summit that has been cataloged as “the best last chance in the world to bring runaway climate change under control.”
So this message sent through the BBC is intended to offer guides at a distance.
“Every crisis demands vision … to rethink the future of the world,” he said, urging “radical solutions” and “a renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world.”
“The most important lesson we can learn from these crises is our need to build together, so that we have no more political borders, barriers or walls behind which to hide.”
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.