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Exclusive BBC message: Pope Francis urges ‘radical’ climate response

Pope Francis delivered his message for BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day

In a communication written down exclusively for the BBC, Pope Francis has called on world leaders meeting next week at the UN Climate conference in Glasgow to come up with “effective responses” to the environment urgent situation and offer “concrete hope” to future generations.

In his statement from the Vatican for BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, the Pope talked of emergencies which includes the Covid-19 epidemic, climate change and economic difficulties, and persuade the world to respond to them with vision and radical resolutions, so as not to “waste opportunities” that the current challenges present.

The pontiff said,

“We can confront these crises by retreating into isolationism, protectionism and exploitation,” “or we can see in them a real chance for change.”

He called to mind the need for

“a renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world”,

saying that “each of us – whoever and wherever we may be – can play our own part in changing our collective response to the unprecedented threat of climate change and the degradation of our common home.”

The Vicar General is scheduled to meet US President Joe Biden at the Vatican later. Mr Biden’s domestic climate strategies remain on hold after his party postponed a vote on his spending plans. 

The communication is a reminder of the attention Francis has placed on environmentalism throughout his pontificate.

He has often called to mind the climate calamities in speeches, and in 2015 published an official letter, or papal document, called Laudato Si’ with focus on the issue. In the text, subtitled On Care for our Common Home, he publicly denounced environmental destruction, pointed out the need to take reducing actions and gave a precise acceptance that climate change was to a great extent man made.

The message was issued before the 2015 UN climate conference in Paris, COP21, and was seen as having some effect on pushing leaders towards an consensus.

It was recalled during deliberation, including by the president of Paraguay, who talked of the Pope’s

“dramatic warning that we face a crisis and need to protect the world upon which we rely for life”.

Six years on, world leaders are getting ready to gather in Glasgow for this year’s climate summit, COP26.

With increasing proof that the dedications made in Paris to keep global temperature rises

“preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels”

aren’t being met, Pope Francis has once more concentrated on the issue, believing his involvement will have a similar effect.

COP26 climate summit – The basics

Climate change is one of the world’s most urgent crises. Governments must promise more determined cuts in warming gases if we are to stop more global temperature rises.
The summit in Glasgow is where change could occur. You need to watch for the promises made by the world’s biggest contaminators, like the US and China, and whether poorer countries are getting the support they need.
All our lives will change. conclusions reached here could impact our jobs, how we heat our homes, what we eat and how we travel.
Read more about the COP26 summit here.

Earlier this month, he assembled about 40 faith leaders from across the world at the Vatican to sign a combined appeal calling on COP26 to stick to promises on global warming, carbon neutrality and support for poorer nations to transition to clean energy. In return, the leaders pledged to educating and informing their faithful about the climate urgent situation.

There was strong belief that the Pope would attend the conference in Glasgow, informing journalists over the summer that his speech was being written. But at the last minute the Vatican declared that the 84-year-old pontiff would not be attending, giving no reason.

That is a huge blow for COP26’s  organizers, who had believed his presence would help added weight to a summit named

“the world’s best last chance to get runaway climate change under control”.

Listen to Pope Francis’s BBC message in full

What the COP26 climate summit could mean for us all

And so this statement through the BBC is meant to give his guidance from afar.

“Every crisis calls for vision… to rethink the future of the world,” he said, urging “radical decisions” and “a renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world”.

“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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