Pope Francis has released an extraordinary encyclical on climate change and the environment this week. This 180 page document calls on rich nations to pay their social debt to poorer countries and criticises the UN climate talks.
In Pope Francis encyclical he believes the highly polluting technologies using coal, oil and to a lesser degree gas need to increasingly be replaced “without delay”. The pope has called for the worldwide development of renewable energy sources and sufficient energy storage technologies in order to drastically reduce fossil fuel consumption and related emission. He continues to say “Until greater progress is made in developing widely accessible sources of renewable energy, it is legitimate to choose the lesser of two evils or to find short-term solutions.”
The Pope Encyclical then goes onto criticise the UN climate talks for their lack of progress. He says that more than 20 years of summits have produced “regrettably few” advances on efforts to reduce the carbon footprint and rein in global warming. He said in the encyclical “It is remarkable how weak international political responses have been. The failure of global summits on the environment make it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance. There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.”
The Pope also highlighted the importance of localised renewable energy use, it is something he has a strong belief in. “In some places, cooperatives are being developed to exploit renewable sources of energy which ensure local self-sufficiency and even the sale of surplus energy. This simple example shows that, while the existing world order proves powerless to assume its responsibilities, local individuals and groups can make a real difference.”
Pope Francis also expresses the opinion that that he believes consumption is a bigger issue than population. “To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.” This was not a surprise due to the churches views on birth control however it does beg the question, why despite the facts and evidence are their still people who deny global warming, are there other motives behind this or do they just not want to accept responsibility?
He finished the encyclical on climate change and the environment saying “We may well be leaving to coming generation’s debris, desolation and filth. The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world. The effects of the present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now.”
In response to this week’s Encyclical from the pope US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said, “As Pope Francis reminds us, we must push for ambitious and cost-effective solutions that protect us all, including those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Pope Francis should inspire all countries to redouble the deployment of clean energy technologies and energy efficiencies and find the international will to significantly cut global emissions of heat-trapping pollution."