Pope: End fossil fuels to tackle climate change and fight poverty

Pope: End Fossil Fuels

Creative Commons: Republic of Korea, 2014

Pope Francis today released his long awaited Encyclical on the environment, called “Laudato Si (Be Praised), On the Care of Our Common Home”.

It’s an open letter to shape Catholic teaching globally about humanity’s universal responsibility to “care for our common home” and tackle the root causes of the greatest interlinked challenges of our time: climate change and poverty.

The document states:

For human beings… to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins.

The Encyclical builds on Francis’ previous statements on the “clear, definitive and ineluctable ethical imperative to act” in order to protect the environment.

It has been widely welcomed by voices from across the political spectrum and all sectors.


Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Christian Aid, Christine Allen said:

From William Wilberforce and the abolition of slavery in Britain to Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight for equal rights in the US and Desmond Tutu’s victory over apartheid in South Africa, Christians acting on their sense of moral duty have a history of transforming society for the better. If Christians in Europe and all over the world heed its call as many are already doing, the Pope’s Encyclical could well spark another transformation on a global scale – and Europe and the world would be a better place for it.


His Holiness joins scientists, business leaders, economists, investors, doctors, trade unions, youth, and other moral and spiritual leaders around the world who are all calling for a transition from dirty fossil fuels to a future powered by clean renewables, making the moral case for climate action as definitive and unassailable as the 97% scientific consensus.

Climate Policy Manager for ActionAid International, Harjeet Singh said:

The Pope’s moral call to protect the environment and humanity is backed by science. Pope Francis has hit the nail on the head by connecting the climate crisis with its root causes of huge consumption, massive inequality and destruction of ecosystems. As he says, real solutions need to be based on equity, justice and morality.

The Encyclical acknowledges the robust science and is expected to influence global politics, but it is not a scientific or a political document.

It is a profound moral call on humanity to reject ‘capitalism at all cost’ in favour of love and care for our environment and the world’s poor.

Sensing an unwinnable debate, those with political and ideological motives or vested interests opposed to the Pope’s message have already attacked in defense, using lines from the coal industry’s PR book to claim poverty eradication requires fossil fuels.

But the moral case the Encyclical makes is too holistic and formidable, with pundits and experts already hailing it as a driver of unprecedented momentum for global change well before its release.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said:

Pope Francis’ encyclical underscores the moral imperative for urgent action on climate change to lift the planet’s most vulnerable populations, protect development, and spur responsible growth. This clarion call should guide the world towards a strong and durable universal climate agreement in Paris at the end of this year. Coupled with the economic imperative, the moral imperative leaves no doubt that we must act on climate change now.

At a time when investors are increasingly abandoning fossil fuels, and the clean energy transition is happening faster than anyone imagined, the Pope’s intervention today is another strong signal that the world is coming to terms with the challenges we face and with the need to act.

This bodes well for negotiations towards a new global climate agreement which governments are due to deliver in Paris this December.

Tomás Insua, Movement Coordinator of the Global Catholic Climate Movement said:

This beautiful and urgent call to action from Pope Francis, besides challenging our lifestyles and behaviors, has perfect timing ahead of the COP21 summit. It was Pope Francis himself who said he wanted the encyclical to influence the international climate negotiations, so now it’s time for Catholics and all people of good will to mobilize and remind world leaders of the moral imperative of climate action.

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