The summit suffered a further blow when it was confirmed that neither China’s leader Xi Jinping nor Russia’s Vladimir Putin would be attending the meeting. China and Russia are together responsible for around 32% of global CO2 emissions.
U.S. President Joe Biden will attend the summit following his meeting with the pope at the Vatican on Friday.
In his message, recorded at the Vatican, Pope Francis said that the combination of climate change and the coronavirus pandemic had exposed the world’s “deep vulnerability.”
He said: “We find ourselves increasingly frail and even fearful, caught up in a succession of ‘crises’ in the areas of healthcare, the environment, food supplies, and the economy, to say nothing of social, humanitarian, and ethical crises.”
“All these crises are profoundly interconnected. They also forecast a ‘perfect storm’ that could rupture the bonds holding our society together within the greater gift of God’s creation.”
He went on: “Every crisis calls for vision, the ability to formulate plans and put them rapidly into action, to rethink the future of the world, our common home, and to reassess our common purpose.”
“These crises present us with the need to take decisions, radical decisions that are not always easy. At the same time, moments of difficulty like these also present opportunities, opportunities that we must not waste.”
He said that countries faced the choice of “retreating into isolationism, protectionism, and exploitation” or embracing positive change.
“This last approach alone can guide us towards a brighter horizon. Yet it can only be pursued through a renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world, and an effective solidarity based on justice, a sense of our common destiny, and a recognition of the unity of our human family in God’s plan for the world,” he said.
He continued: “All this represents an immense cultural challenge. It means giving priority to the common good, and it calls for a change in perspective, a new outlook, in which the dignity of every human being, now and in the future, will guide our ways of thinking and acting.”
“The most important lesson we can take from these crises is our need to build together, so that there will no longer be any borders, barriers, or political walls for us to hide behind.”
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