Vatican Calls for Climate Change Commitment


Kiribati. The Pacific island state is increasingly threatened by rising sea levels caused by climate change.


From commencement of his Pontificate, Pope Francis stressed protection of the environment as against man’s greedy exploitation of it to the detriment of others.[1] At the UN Climate Summit, Cardinal Parolin reiterated the moral imperative to act to protect and value creation for the good of present and future generations.[2] Climate change, His Eminence noted, raises not only scientific, environmental and socio-economic considerations but ethical and moral demands given the impact on all but more particularly the poor most exposed to its effects.

Accepting the scientific consensus as to warming of the climate system principally caused by human activity requires political and economic commitment to change. It requires a collective response founded on a culture of solidarity recognising the mutual responsibility to protect the world climate through measures of mitigation and adaptation, and sharing of expertise and relevant technology.

Climate change and poverty are interdependent. The poor are disproportionately dependent on climate sensitive-resources for food and livelihoods. Malnutrition rates in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are rising. Diminishing livelihoods increase unsustainable rural to urban migration. This together with proliferation of floods, storms and rising sea levels further endangers adequate housing.[3]

Based on growing evidence and in light of earlier statements, His Excellency Archbishop Tomasi, recently called for decision-making showing respect for the environment, for those who suffer most, and for the sake of current and future generations.[4] The Paris Climate Change Conference offers opportunity to make two requisite ethical decisions: commitment to curbing carbon emissions at a minimum level to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, and funding adaptation measures needed by vulnerable nations and peoples to withstand the impacts of climate change.[5]

Barbara Tynan

[1] Pope Francis, Address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 22 March 2013.

[2] Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, Statement during the UN Summit on Climate, 23 September 2014

[3] His Excellency Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN and Other International Organisations in Geneva, Statement in Discussion on Human Rights and Climate Change, 28th sess, HRC Res 26/27, 6 March 2015.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

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