Pope Francis: Lack of International Action on Climate Change Would Be Catastrophic

The UN conference on climate change, COP21, began this week. Prior to the conference, Pope Francis delivered a speech in which he discussed COP21 and the need for an agreement. Here are the highlights:

In a few days an important meeting on climate change will be held in Paris, where the international community as such will once again confront these issues.  It would be sad, and I dare say even catastrophic, were particular interests to prevail over the common good and lead to manipulating information in order to protect their own plans and projects. In this international context, we are confronted with a choice which cannot be ignored: either to improve or to destroy the environment.

COP21 represents an important stage in the process of developing a new energy system which depends on a minimal use of fossil fuels, aims at energy efficiency and makes use of energy sources with little or no carbon content.  We are faced with a great political and economic obligation to rethink and correct the dysfunctions and distortions of the current model of development.

I express my hope that COP21 will achieve a global and “transformational” agreement based on the principles of solidarity, justice, equality and participation; an agreement which targets three complex and interdependent goals: lessening the impact of climate change, fighting poverty and ensuring respect for human dignity.

What is needed is sincere and open dialogue, with responsible cooperation on the part of all: political authorities, the scientific community, the business world and civil society.

Nothing will happen unless political and technical solutions are accompanied by a process of education which proposes new ways of living.  A new culture.  This calls for an educational process which fosters in boys and girls, women and men, young people and adults, the adoption of a culture of care – care for oneself, care for others, care for the environment – in place of a culture of waste, a “throw-away culture” where people use and discard themselves, others and the environment. By promoting an “awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of the future to be shared with everyone”, we will favor the development of new convictions, attitudes and lifestyles.

Many are the faces, the stories and the evident effects on the lives of thousands of persons whom the culture of deterioration and waste has allowed to be sacrificed before the idols of profits and consumption.