In a recent address, Pope Francis explained why Laudato Si is a social encyclical, not just an environmental one:
It is true that everything revolves around … this culture of care for the environment. But this ‘green’ culture – and I say that in a positive sense – is much more than that. Caring for the environment means an attitude of human ecology. In other words, we cannot say: the person and Creation, the environment, are two separate entities. Ecology is total, it is human. This is what I wanted to express in the Encyclical ‘Laudato si”: that you cannot separate humanity from the rest; there is a relationship of mutual impact, and also the rebound effect when the environment is abused. Therefore … I say, ‘no, it is not a green encyclical, it is a social encyclical’. Because we cannot separate care for the environment from the social context, the social life of mankind. Furthermore, care for the environment is a social attitude.
Francis also called for international action:
Finally, I would say that this requires the involvement of the United Nations. I hope that the Paris Summit in November will lead to a basic agreement. I have high hopes, and believe that the United Nations must take a greater interest in this phenomenon, especially human trafficking caused by environmental issues, and the exploitation of people.
And the pope explained why the Vatican hosted public officials working below the national level:
Why did the Pontifical Academy of Sciences convoke mayors and city governors? Because are aware of how to carry out this important and profound work, from the center to the periphery, and from the periphery to the center. They are aware of the reality of humanity. The Holy See may make a good speech before the United Nations, but if the work does not come from the periphery to the center, it will have no effect; hence the responsibility of mayors and city governors.