Climate Change: Pope Francis Calls for Strong Agreement

Pope Francis and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner at UN Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. 26 November 2015. Photo credit: UNEP / Adam Hodge
Pope Francis and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner at UN Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. 26 November 2015. Photo credit: UNEP / Adam Hodge

Pope Francis called on world leaders to seal a strong agreement at the upcoming UN climate change conference (COP21), stating that transforming current development models is a “political and economic obligation.”

Pope offered his suggestion Thursday when he visited the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya.

He placed particular emphasis on the need to adopt low-carbon energy systems and end the “throw-away culture” that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

[ What Is the Effect of Climate Change on Children? ]

“In a few days, an important meeting on climate change will be held in Paris…It would be sad, and I dare say even catastrophic, were particular interests to prevail over the common good,” Pope Francis told the crowd. “In this international context, we are confronted with a choice which cannot be ignored: either to improve or to destroy the environment.”

[ Papal Encyclical: Climate Change Is a Moral Issue ]

He said COP21 represents an important stage in the process of developing a new energy system which depends on a minimal use of fossil fuels, aims at energy efficiency and makes use of energy sources with little or no carbon content.

“We are faced with a great political and economic obligation to rethink and correct the dysfunctions and distortions of the current model of development,” he stressed.

As a further symbol of his environmental commitment, Pope Francis planted an Olea capensis, an indigenous tree found across the continent of Africa, on the grounds of the UN headquarters before his talk.

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Rakesh Raman