(UPI) — Pope Francis urged governments to honor the Paris climate agreement — or else, he said, the Earth will turn into “rubble, deserts and refuse.”
The pope made the speech at a conference marking the third anniversary of his Laudato Si’ encyclical, which was presented in May 2015 and included similar cautions about human interaction with the environment, particularly as it relates to climate change.
“The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes,” Pope Francis said Friday at the Vatican conference. “There is a real danger that we will leave future generations only rubble, deserts and refuse.”
Francis referenced the COP24 Summit, to be held in Poland in December, saying discussions there could prove significant on the path set out by the 2015 Paris Agreement, a pact that set stringent standards to restrict carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases that scientists say contribute to climate change.
“We all know that much still needs to be done to implement that agreement. All governments should strive to honor the commitments made in Paris, in order to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis,” Francis said. “Reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility, above all on the part of those countries which are more powerful and pollute the most and we cannot afford to waste time.”
In his remarks, the pope also said institutions like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank could play important roles in encouraging reforms to promote sustainable development.
“It is to be hoped that finance … will go back to being an instrument directed towards improved wealth creation and development, as well as towards care for the environment,” Francis said.
The pope said today’s world has too many special interests, adding his belief that economic interests easily trump the common good and manipulating information.
“Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start. Please continue to work for the radical change which present circumstances require,” he said.
In closing, Francis referred to Saint Francis of Assisi, known as the patron saint for the environment, for inspiration and said, “may our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.”
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