In a special message recorded for BBC the Pope called on world leaders meeting at the UN climate conference in Glasgow to stop the “degradation of our common home”.
He said they must provide “effective responses” to the environment emergency and offer “concrete hope” to future generations.
“We can confront these crises by retreating into isolationism, protectionism and exploitation,” the pontiff said, “or we can see in them a real chance for change.”
He evoked the need for “a renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world”, adding that “each of us – whoever and wherever we may be – can play our own part in changing our collective response to the unprecedented threat of climate change and the degradation of our common home.”
The Pontiff is due to meet US President Joe Biden at the Vatican later. Mr Biden’s domestic climate policies are yet to pass through the US Congress.
The message is a reminder of the emphasis Francis has placed on environmentalism throughout his pontificate.
He has frequently evoked the climate crisis in speeches, and in 2015 published an encyclical, or papal document, called Laudato Si’ focusing on the issue. In the text, subtitled On Care for our Common Home, he decried environmental destruction, stressed the need to take mitigating measures and gave an unambiguous acceptance that climate change was largely manmade.
The letter was issued before the 2015 UN climate conference in Paris, COP21, and was seen as having some impact on pushing leaders towards an agreement.
It was evoked during discussions, including by the president of Paraguay, who spoke of the Pope’s “dramatic warning that we face a crisis and need to protect the world upon which we rely for life”.
Six years on, world leaders are preparing to gather in Glasgow for this year’s climate summit, COP26.
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