At a discussion on the Sustainable Development Goals, organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope Francis described climate change as “an issue of great importance for humanity and the whole of creation”.
The discussion brought together finance ministers from various countries to reflect on the theme “Climate Change and New Evidence from Science, Engineering, and Policy”.
Profits valued over persons
Pope Francis lamented that, “We live at a time when profits and losses seem to be more highly valued than lives and death, and when a company’s net worth is given precedence over the infinite worth of our human family”. On the contrary, “Today’s global interdependence obliges us to think in terms of one world with a common plan”, and he called on finance ministers to “work to achieve the goals” agreed on by governments in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement COP21.
"The signs are not good"
The Holy Father sounded a dire warning about the current state of affairs. “The signs today are not good”, he said, pointing to declining investment in clean energy and a rise in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Citing leading climatologists and experts, Pope Francis said, “Their message was clear and insistent. We need to act decisively to put an end to all emissions of greenhouse gases by mid-century at the very latest, and to do even more than that”.
Specifically, Pope Francis called on ministers to commit to several specific goals:
- to value what is important, not what is superfluous;
- to correct our national accounts and our business accounts, so as to stop engaging in activities that are destroying our planet;
- to put an end to global dependency on fossil fuels;
- to open a new chapter of clean and safe energy, that utilizes, for example, renewable resources such as wind, sun and water;
- above all, to act prudently and responsibly in our economies to actually meet human needs, promote human dignity, help the poor and be set free of the idolatry of money that creates so much suffering.
Waiting for decisive action
“Before all else”, the Pope said, “We must recognize the ledger of life itself, of human dignity and survival”. He said it is his “prayerful hope that, as stewards of the world’s finances, you will agree upon a common plan that accords with climate science, the latest in clean energy engineering, and above all the ethics of human dignity”.
Pope Francis told the finance ministers, “Time is of the essence. We await your decisive action for the sake of all humanity.”