Posted on 04 October 2023
First time a high level papal document has focused exclusively on climate change
(4 October 2023) – Today, Pope Francis published a new Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum
, addressing the climate crisis, addressed to ‘all people of goodwill’.
Set out in six chapters, the Exhortation deals with the climate crisis; the technocratic paradigm; the weakness of international politics; the progress and failures of climate conferences; and finally, spiritual motivations. This follows the June 2015 publication of his Encyclical,
Laudato Si – Our Common Home. While this focused on care of the planet broadly, Laudate Deum marks the first time a high level papal document has focused exclusively on the climate crisis. It also marks the first time the Pope has addressed a specific UN Summit, highlighting his deep interest in the outcomes of the climate negotiations, scheduled to take place in December in Dubai.
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF Global Lead Climate and Energy,
says: “The Pope's reflection that ‘international negotiations cannot make significant progress due to positions taken by countries which place their national interests above the global common good’ resonates deeply with me. It is clear that when it comes to addressing the climate crisis, we have to work together. We must see COP28 as the place where “the capacity of human beings to transcend petty interests and to think in bigger terms” will fully bloom. Ambitious decisions that reset the course we are on are imperative. We cannot afford to jeopardize the slim opportunity we have to do this.”
In the Exhortation, the Pope says the energy transition must be “efficient, obligatory and readily monitored .. to achieve the beginning of a new process marked by three requirements: that it be drastic, intense and count on the commitment of all.” This is a significant call to action, says Pulgar-Vidal. "The burning of fossil fuels – coal, oil, gas – are the main cause of climate change. The proposal to adopt a new global goal and renewable energy and energy efficiency at COP28 is a good step. But this is the time to be even more ambitious. If COP28 is to be the landmark COP post Paris, then we cannot deliver short of the high expectations of the world.”
Mariagrazia Midulla, WWF Italy Head of Climate and Energy,
says Laudate Deum is a challenge to those who hold power today, and who risk 'being remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so.' It is also a call to all people of good will, individuals, communities, and families to heed the climate crisis and take action within their sphere.”
Pope Francis is sharply in favour of the energy and ecological transition, a just transition, but one that must succeed in forcing a turnaround in climate action, Midulla says. "The Pope writes that ‘we have to overcome the logic of appearing sensitive to the problem and, at the same time, not having the courage to make substantial changes’. This is the heart of the issue we face today. We will do well to heed his valuable advice.”
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