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Monday, May 4, 2015

Pope Francis and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on the moral imperative of climate action

Catholic church statements on climate change are undermining the moral authority of catholic Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his government's poor record on climate action and support for fossil fuels and expansion of coal.

Tony Abbott's 'coal for prosperity' statement is looking more ridiculous and out of step with every passing moment.

Our Prime Minister was closely asociated with Cardinal Pell, a strong climate denier in the Australian Catholic Church. (See Graham Readfearn: Cardinal Pell’s mine of climate misinformation) Unfortunately Pell's climate ideas are not widely held in the upper echelon of the Catholic church.

With the Paris climate talks approaching in December, 2015, Pope Francis has indicated that a papal encyclical on the environment and climate change is being prepared for issue. This will lay the moral ground and support for progress at the UN climate talks, according to Neil Ormerod, Professor of Theology at Australian Catholic University, writing in The Age in Januray, 2015.

Papal encyclicals are doctrinal documents distributed to Bishops and priests with the teachings communicated to the 1.2 billion catholics. An encyclical on climate change will articulate the strong moral grounds for taking action on global warming, placing pressure on politicians to step up action.

This will throw the Catholic Church's moral authority behind efforts for rapid greenhouse gas emissions reduction and an ambitious agreement in Paris in December. Pope Francis will also convene interfaith meetings of leaders of world religions to enhance the moral authority to take action.

Pope Francis met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and leading scientists, including economist Professor Jeffrey Sachs, and and the Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Vatican. The meeting was held in conjunction with a Workshop, entitled “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Humanity”.

The workshop was organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, SDSN and Religions for Peace at the Vatican on 28 April, 2015.

A sideshow at the Vatican was a delegation organised by the Heartland Institute to convince the Pope and the pontifical academies that they are wrong on global warming. According to DesmogUK report "The increasingly eccentric Lord Monckton played ringmaster to Dr Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance and Marc Morano from CFACT in a curious performance hosted by the Heartland Institute."

UN Leader Ban Ki-Moon addresses Vatican Workshop

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon addressed the Vatican workshop saying, "Climate change is intrinsically linked to public health, food and water security, migration, peace and security. It is a moral issue. It is an issue of social justice, human rights and fundamental ethics. We have a profound responsibility to the fragile web of life on this Earth, and to this generation and those that will follow."

He articulated that science and religion are not at odds on climate change, they are well aligned.

"Our response has to be global, holistic and rooted in universal values. Climate change affects us all, but not equally. Those who suffer first and worst are those who did least to cause it: the poor and most vulnerable members of society." he said.

"Climate change affects us all, but not equally. Those who suffer first and worst are those who did least to cause it: the poor and most vulnerable members of society."

"Many countries are moving down a low-carbon pathway and investing in clean energy that can power truly sustainable development. To transform our economies, however, we must first transform our thinking, and our values. In this, the world’s religions can provide valuable leadership. As the Holy See has said, 'there is a moral imperative to act, for we all bear the responsibility to protect and to value creation for the good of this and future generations'."

In his speech he outlined that Pope Francis will address the United Nations Special Summit on Sustainable Development in New York in September. He was also upbeat about the necessity in December for governments meeting in Paris at the UNFCCC climate talks to forge a meaningful universal agreement on climate change. "Paris is not the end point, but it must be a turning point in finding a common way forward in meeting the climate challenge." he said.

"We are the first generation that can end poverty, and the last generation that can avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Future generations will judge us harshly if we fail to uphold our moral and historical responsibilities....This is a future in which we are good stewards of our common home and good neighbours to all. I am grateful for your moral leadership, and thank you for your commitment." concluded Ban Ki-Moon.

The following declaration was issued at the end of the workshop

Declaration of Religious Leaders, Political Leaders, Business Leaders,

Scientists and Development Practitioners - 28 April 2015

We the undersigned have assembled at the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences to address the challenges of human-induced climate change, extreme poverty, and social marginalization, including human trafficking, in the context of sustainable development. We join together from many faiths and walks of life, reflecting humanity’s shared yearning for peace, happiness, prosperity, justice, and environmental sustainability. We have considered the overwhelming scientific evidence regarding human-induced climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and the vulnerabilities of the poor to economic, social, and environmental shocks.

In the face of the emergencies of human-induced climate change, social exclusion, and extreme poverty, we join together to declare that:

Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity;

In this core moral space, the world’s religions play a very vital role. These traditions all affirm the inherent dignity of every individual linked to the common good of all humanity. They affirm the beauty, wonder, and inherent goodness of the natural world, and appreciate that it is a precious gift entrusted to our common care, making it our moral duty to respect rather than ravage the garden that is our home;

The poor and excluded face dire threats from climate disruptions, including the increased frequency of droughts, extreme storms, heat waves, and rising sea levels;

The world has within its technological grasp, financial means, and know-how the means to mitigate climate change while also ending extreme poverty, through the application of sustainable development solutions including the adoption of lowcarbon energy systems supported by information and communications technologies;

The financing of sustainable development, including climate mitigation, should be bolstered through new incentives for the transition towards low-carbon energy, and through the relentless pursuit of peace, which also will enable the shift of public financing from military spending to urgent investments for sustainable development;

The world should take note that the climate summit in Paris later this year (COP21) may be the last effective opportunity to negotiate arrangements that keep human-induced warming below 2-degrees C, and aim to stay well below 2-degree C for safety, yet the current trajectory may well reach a devastating 4-degrees C or higher;

Political leaders of all UN member states have a special responsibility to agree at COP21 to a bold climate agreement that confines global warming to a limit safe for humanity, while protecting the poor and the vulnerable from ongoing climate change that gravely endangers their lives. The high-income countries should help to finance the costs of climate-change mitigation in low-income countries as the high-income countries have promised to do;

Climate-change mitigation will require a rapid world transformation to a world powered by renewable and other low-carbon energy and the sustainable management of ecosystems. These transformations should be carried out in the context of globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals, consistent with ending extreme poverty; ensuring universal access for healthcare, quality education, safe water, and sustainable energy; and cooperating to end human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery;

All sectors and stakeholders must do their part, a pledge that we fully commit to in our individual capacities.

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