Warning that “the world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point,” Pope Francis on Wednesday released a new document urging dramatic action to combat climate change ahead of the U.N. COP28 summit scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 12 in Dubai.
The new document, titled Laudate Deum, or “Praise God,” amounts to a strong rejection of skepticism about global warming and the consequences of human intervention in the environment.
“Despite all attempts to deny, conceal, gloss over or relativize the issue, the signs of climate change are here and increasingly evident,” the pope writes in the text, released on Oct. 4, the traditional Catholic feast of St. Francis.
Francis acknowledged that at times, those skeptical voices are heard even within his own flock.
“I feel obliged to make these clarifications, which may appear obvious, because of certain dismissive and scarcely reasonable opinions that I encounter, even within the Catholic Church,” he writes.
In terms of assigning blame for the climate crisis, the pontiff is critical of wealthy nations, especially the United States, for disproportionately causing the emissions that scientists believe drive global warming.
“If we consider that emissions per individual in the United States are about two times greater than those of individuals living in China, and about seven times greater than the average of the poorest countries, we can state that a broad change in the irresponsible lifestyle connected with the Western model would have a significant long-term impact,” he writes.
Francis calls for “drastic” and “intense” results from the Dubai summit, including “a decisive acceleration of energy transition, with effective commitments subject to ongoing monitoring,” as well as new commitments for the “necessary transition towards clean energy sources such as wind and solar energy, and the abandonment of fossil fuels.”
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