Holy See urges implementation of Paris Agreement

Cardinal Pietro Parolin speaks in Rome, Sept. 28, 2017. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin speaks in Rome, Sept. 28, 2017. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

.- At a UN climate change summit in Poland Monday, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin underlined the Holy See’s view that climate change is a moral issue and has an effect on human dignity.

“The scientific data at our disposal clearly show the urgent need for swift action, within a context of ethics, equity and social justice,” Parolin told the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Dec. 3.

“The transition to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” he stated, “is a problem not only within the domain of technology, but also a question of consumption patterns, education, and lifestyles. We are gradually becoming aware that climate change is an issue increasingly more moral than technical.”

Speaking on the first day of the COP-24 in Katowice, Parolin stressed the Holy See’s desire for the work program of the Paris Agreement be built on a “clear ethical foundation,” and on a commitment to “advancing the dignity of the human person, alleviating poverty and promoting integral human development.”

He also said implementation of the climate change agreement should be based on “easing the impact of climate change through responsible mitigation and adaptation measures” and on meeting the needs of both the present and the future.

Informally dubbed the COP-24, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is taking place Dec. 3-14. The main task of the summit is developing a program for implementation of the Paris Agreement at the national level.

The Paris Agreement, which will take effect in 2020, was made within the UNFCCC to create a global response to combatting the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. A long-term goal of the agreement is to help control the increase in the global average temperature by having countries pledge individual contributions towards the mitigation of global warming.

Most of the UN member states are parties to the agreement, with about a dozen having signed but not yet ratified the agreement.

As an observer state the Holy See is not eligible to sign the Paris Agreement unless it first becomes a member of the UNFCCC, though it has been supportive of the Paris Agreement from the beginning.

In his speech Parolin said, “we know what we can do, and what we have to do becomes an ethical imperative.”

“COP-24 may be a turning point, if it can show that the collaborative and proactive spirit of Paris is still alive.” He added that “attitudes such as indifference, resignation and denial, or the limited hope in some technological solution that may be only partial or even counterproductive, must not prevail.”

The secretary of state referenced several other points he said the Holy See would like to see included in the Paris Agreement Work Program, namely: the encouragement of developed nations to take the lead; advancement of sustainable consumption and production patterns; and the strengthening of financial sources against corruption.

The Holy See would also like to see inclusion of the participation of local populations, including indigenous people, in decision-making and implementation; appropriate job opportunities; and a “transparent, efficient, and dynamic” follow-up and commitment review process.

At the conclusion of the COP-24, Parolin said, there should be a document of solid “guidelines, rules and institutional mechanisms, aimed at facilitating a fair and efficient implementation of the Agreement, particularly at the national level.”

It is worrying, he said, that the Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows the commitments states have made thus far are not enough to achieve the Paris Agreement’s objectives; and it demonstrates that a “challenging route” lies ahead.

The report shows that limiting global warming is still possible, but it requires “a clear, forward-looking and strong political will” to promote fast changes in behavior, he added, noting that non-state actors are important to the process as well.

Numerous solutions to climate change are “at our disposal” and often within reach. “The question is therefore this: is there sufficient political will to implement the many solutions we have available to promote the aforementioned model of development?” Parolin said.

“In the face of such a complex issue as climate change,” he continued, “where the individual or the national response in itself is not sufficient, we have no alternative but to make every effort to implement a responsible, unprecedented collective response, intended to ‘work together to build our common home.’”

Tags: Vatican diplomacy, Climate change, Cardinal Pietro Parolin