The pope said that the world was facing an “epochal change” in which richer countries had a duty to lead in climate finance, decarbonization, the promotion of a “circular economy,” and helping vulnerable countries mitigate the impact of climate change.
He noted that the Vatican City State was committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
He also recalled that he and other religious leaders signed a joint message at the Vatican on Oct. 4 appealing for countries to “achieve net-zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.”
The pope said: “The wounds inflicted on our human family by the COVID-19 pandemic and the phenomenon of climate change are comparable to those resulting from a global conflict.”
“Today, as in the aftermath of the Second World War, the international community as a whole needs to set as a priority the implementation of collegial, solidary and farsighted actions.”
He went on: “We need both hope and courage. Humanity possesses the wherewithal to effect this change, which calls for a genuine conversion, individual as well as communitarian, and a decisive will to set out on this path.”
“It will entail the transition towards a more integral and integrating model of development, based on solidarity and on responsibility. A transition that must also take into serious consideration the effects it will have on the world of labor.”
He proposed that countries that used proportionately more natural resources owed an “ecological debt” to vulnerable nations. He also called for renewed attention to forgiveness of the foreign debts owed by developing countries.
“Sadly, we must acknowledge how far we remain from achieving the goals set for tackling climate change. We need to be honest: this cannot continue,” the pope said.
“Even as we were preparing for COP26, it became increasingly clear that there is no time to waste. All too many of our brothers and sisters are suffering from this climate crisis.”
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“The lives of countless people, particularly those who are most vulnerable, have experienced its increasingly frequent and devastating effects.”
“At the same time, we have come to realize that it also involves a crisis of children’s rights and that, in the near future, environmental migrants will be more numerous than refugees from war and conflicts.”
Pope Francis concluded by reflecting on the situation of young people.
“The young, who in recent years have strongly urged us to act, will only inherit the planet we choose to leave to them, based on the concrete choices we make today,” he said.
“Now is the moment for decisions that can provide them with reasons for hope and trust in the future.”