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18 June 2015 | by Gabor Chodkowski-Gyurics

Pope Francis calls for climate action

Pope Francis calls for climate action
Climate change is “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day,” Pope Francis proclaimed in his latest encyclical, Laudato Si, on June 18.

“We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels - especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas - needs to be progressively replaced without delay,” the Pope wrote.

The encyclical describes an ongoing “ecological crisis”, referencing latest scientific findings on climate change, and calls on the world’s rich nations to take urgent climate action and pay their “grave social debt” to the poor.

“The developed countries ought to help pay this debt by significantly limiting their consumption of non-renewable energy and by assisting poorer countries to support policies and programmes of sustainable development,” Pope Francis wrote.

The Pope linked global warming to the overarching theme of his papacy of fighting inequality and global poverty, portraying climate change as fundamentally connected to the plight of the world's poorest citizens and upholding human rights, such as providing access to safe water. He lambasted the rich for attempting to "conceal the symptoms" of climate change and called destruction of environment for one’s own benefit a sin against God and future generations.

Many have welcomed the highly influential opinion as a possible game-changer for the climate change dialogue. “Aside from taking a stand against one of the seven deadly sins, this could spur people to put greater pressure on politicians regarding environmental issues and human rights - and help give legitimacy to protestors defending both. Sometimes people are afraid of taking a stand on something that affects them. This encyclical will give them courage," Pablo Canziani, a climate scientist working with Accion Catolica Argentina, told Deutsche Welle.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim called the encyclical a "stark reminder" of the link between climate change and said global warming’s impacts "including the increased frequency of extreme weather events, are most devastating for the unacceptably high number of people today living in extreme poverty." He estimated weather-related disasters to have killed more than 2.5 million people and resulted in almost $4 trillion in damage over past 30 years.

Nevertheless, many of the social conservatives traditionally aligned with the Catholic Church remain unconvinced. “I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinal or my pope,”Jeb Bush, Republican contender for US presidency, remarked during a rally in New Hampshire.


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