Pope Francis says the renewables transition is happening too slowly


Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, said that the “necessary transition” to clean energy and the “abandonment” of fossil fuels are not progressing “at the necessary speed,” in a statement described as an “exhortation to all people of good will on the climate crisis.”

The statement, with the Latin title “Laudate Deum,” comes before next month’s conference of 197 nations that have signed on to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Pope expressed hope that next month’s Conference of the Parties (COP), to be held in the United Arab Emirates, will be “a historic event,” setting “binding” terms for the energy transition that are “efficient, obligatory and readily monitored,” and beginning a new process that is “drastic, intense, and counts on the commitment of all.”

“That is not what has happened so far” at the 27 previous COP gatherings, the Pope said, yet “only in this concrete manner will it be possible” to significantly reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

Catholics constitute 23% of the U.S. population. Various organizational levels of the U.S. Catholic Church, from local parish churches to metropolitan-area archdioceses, are promoting the Pope’s statement, as are national Catholic publications.

The Pope said he encounters “certain dismissive and scarcely reasonable opinions, even within the Catholic Church” about the correlation between global climate phenomena and “the accelerated increase” in greenhouse gas emissions. The Pope’s statement walks through scientific evidence of that correlation.

The Pope quoted a 2019 statement by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops saying that “our care for one another and our care for the earth are intimately bound together. The effects of climate change are borne by the most vulnerable people, whether at home or around the world.”

Pope Francis’s 2015 climate statement “Laudato Si” and his visit to the U.S. later that year were associated with an increasing percentage of Americans saying they are concerned about global warming, said the Yale Program on Climate Change Communications in a report titled “The Francis Effect.” After the Pope’s 2015 visit, 59% of Americans and 64% of American Catholics said they were concerned about global warming, up 8 points and 11 points, respectively, compared to survey results before the Pope’s 2015 climate statement.

The Pope highlighted the work of activists at COP gatherings, saying that at these conferences “the actions of groups negatively portrayed as ‘radicalized’ tend to attract attention. But in reality they are filling a space left empty by society as a whole, which ought to exercise a healthy ‘pressure,’ since every family ought to realize that the future of their children is at stake.”

The statement’s title “Laudate Deum” translates to “Praise God” in English.

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