“The world is collapsing”: Pope Francis launched a new cry of alarm in the face of global warming and called for a “binding” energy transition in a text published Wednesday, a few weeks before COP28 in Dubai.
Eight years after the publication of his founding encyclical on integral ecology, "Laudato Si'", the 86-year-old Argentine Jesuit deplores "insufficient responses while the world (...) is collapsing" and approaches from a “breaking point”.
Entitled “Laudate Deum” (“Praise God”), this new document calls on the great powers to “reconfigure multilateralism” while the objectives of reducing carbon emissions seem increasingly difficult to achieve.
The head of the Catholic Church insists in particular on the need for a "binding" energy transition, in the form of a direct appeal to the participants in the climate negotiations under the aegis of the UN (COP28) which will be held at the beginning of December in Dubai.
According to him, this conference can represent "a turning point" in the event of a binding agreement on the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy sources such as wind and solar, otherwise it will be "a great disappointment".
“It is only through such a process that the credibility of international policy can be restored,” he said in this 12-page document, written in Spanish and translated into several languages.
Jorge Bergoglio, who has made the defense of the "Common Home" a recurring theme of his pontificate since his election in 2013, also warns against the "contemptuous and unreasonable opinions" of climate skeptics, "even within the Church Catholic".
“In recent years, many people have tried to make fun of this observation,” he laments, against a backdrop of the proliferation of false information relativizing global warming or “ridiculing” those who talk about it.
“No matter how much we try to deny them, hide them, conceal them or put them into perspective, the signs of climate change are there, ever more obvious,” warns the Pope, deeming the explosion in the number of climate migrants “probable.” "in a few years".
In this apostolic exhortation of 73 paragraphs with a didactic tone, the pope again insists on the damage caused by "the frantic intervention of man on nature" and castigates the "irresponsible way of life of the Western model", pointing in particular pointing the finger at the United States and China for their greenhouse gas emissions.
More generally, he deplores the fact that "the climate crisis is not really a subject of interest for the major economic powers, concerned with the greatest profit at the lowest cost and in the shortest possible time".
In 2015, "Laudato si" ("Praise be to you"), a 200-page manifesto for solidarity in order to act together to protect the environment, sparked a global debate, an unprecedented phenomenon for a text religious, including comments in scientific journals.
A few months later, significant progress was obtained with the Paris climate agreement, the primary objective of which is to keep the temperature rise below 2°C.
The UN warned last month that the world was not on track to meet this goal, with 2023 expected to be the hottest year in human history, with a summer marked by heatwaves , droughts and fires.
“The Pope is right to highlight the growing gap between the urgent need to phase out all fossil fuels and the fact that countries and the oil and gas industry persist in producing in a way that is incompatible with a sustainable climate,” reacted Mariam Kemple Hardy, from the NGO Oil Change International.
The British Catholic foreign aid group CAFOD sees it as a way to “hold world leaders and industry giants to account.”
According to experts, this new text should have less impact than the first, but Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, an international environmental organization, believes that "the work of religious leaders around the world may represent our best chance to recover things in hand."
"Yes, the engineers have done their job. Yes, the scientists have done their job. But it is high time that the human heart also did its job. That is why we need this leadership," he said. -he adds
Writing (with AFP)