By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
The Holy See’s voice was heard on Monday at the Cop24 taking place in Katowice, Poland from 2-14 December. Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, addressed the High-Level Segment, greeting those present on behalf of Pope Francis. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report released in October of this year, he says, indicates that a “collective response” is needed in order to “work together to build our common home”.
Climate change requires political will
Cardinal Parolin cited the IPCC Special Report saying there is still time to recuperate the goals of the Paris Agreement and “limit global warming”. This requires a “strong political will” in embracing a model for development, technology and behavior that reduces the emission of greenhouse gasses. The Paris Agreement Work Programme, he said, responds to the question regarding whether there is “sufficient political will to implement” such new models. Cardinal Parolin said that three things are important for the Holy See regarding this Work Programme. The first is that it be built on “a clear ethical foundation”. Secondly, that it be directed toward “advancing the dignity of the human person, alleviating poverty and promoting integral human development”. Lastly, that it focus on meeting both present and future needs.
Climate change connected with job opportunities
A further consideration Cardinal Parolin proposed to implement the Paris Agreement is the availability of “more appropriate job opportunities”. The “creation of decent work is significant”, he said, and is connected with human rights, security, and the elimination of poverty especially for people more likely to be affected by “climate extremes”.
Climate change is a moral issue
It is becoming clearer that climate change is more a moral issue rather than a technical one, Cardinal Parolin continued. Thus Pope Francis’ indicated in Laudato Si’, no. 139 that “strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature”. This requires a mentality centred on values that highlight “the ethical and human dimension of climate change”.
Climate change requires collective response
Another aspect of the issue is a responsibility to future generations, who should not have to “absorb the problems caused by the previous ones”, the Cardinal said. He repeated Pope Francis’ hope that humanity of the twenty-first century be “remembered for having generously shouldered” its responsibility vis-à-vis the post-industrial period which “may well be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history (Laudato Si’ no. 165)”. For this to become a reality, “we have no alternative but to make every effort to implement a responsible, unprecedented collective response, intended to ‘work together to build our common home’ (Laudato Si’, no 13)”.