Pope Francis took a very direct and strong stance today at the COP26 climate conference, pressuring world leaders to take action to prevent dangerous climate change.
Speaking in a document he published along with his comments at the summit, the pope called for “inclusive dialogue” to come up with solutions. He said:
To impose a reduction of emissions by 50 percent in the next 10 years seems an unrealistic ambition. To reduce CO2 to 300 parts per million (ppm) within 35 years seems to many people an impossible goal. If we assume that our present levels of consumption can persist and that the world’s political will to change will remain as weak as it is, this implies an unimaginable destructive power.
Without a real, bold plan, he said, the costs of dealing with the effects of climate change and its solutions will be very high. The costs will be passed on to world’s poor and a number of other vulnerable countries, the Pope said.
The UN summit in Poland, held from 22 to 26 February, is intended to find a new global agreement to combat climate change and provide solutions. Catholic politicians and other believers from around the world, along with protesters, have traveled to Warsaw to witness the deliberations.
Pope Francis also criticized those “who wish to rule over the earth using the tools of science” by gathering meetings in Warsaw, saying “they do not even realize the chaotic impact on the environment that they are promoting.” He stressed the importance of adopting the principle of non-interference in the affairs of nations and not imposing “our own theories and egotistical interests.” He added that there should be no commandeering of social or natural resources for “the sake of temporarily securing the interests of a few.”
Pope Francis also expressed doubts on the possible increase in global temperatures that would result from attempts to reduce emissions. He said:
We know that we have to reduce emissions, but we also know that a warming is a luxury, an expense, a waste. We should be using less of the earth’s resources and seeing to it that they are used wisely and honestly. We need to prevent new ecological disaster. We cannot afford future generations the risk of a climate disaster.
While world leaders have committed to staying below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, many believe that to cut emissions we must cut them by 4.5 percent per year until 2030. Many are still skeptical of the world leaders’ efforts and optimism has been lower than expected.
It was Pope Francis’ highest level speech in more than two years and will likely be one of his last. On May 25 of this year, he will retire from his position as pope, though he will continue his efforts to build bridges between different faiths and religions.