Climate Action

The Vatican Holds a Climate Change Conference

Pope Francis convened a one-day conference on climate change on April 28th in the Vatican. The conference comes before Pope Francis is expected to deliver a papal encyclical in June, highlighting environmental degradation and the effects of climate change. The conference, hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, brought together around 60 Catholic leaders, economists and scientists, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who spoke of the crucial role that people of faith can play in mobilizing the planet to address global climate change. Cardinal Peter Turkson, Pope Francis’s point man for peace and justice issues called for a “moral awakening of politicians and people of faith is a likely precursor to the highly anticipated encyclical on the environment”. Following the conference, the Vatican released ‘The Declaration of Religious Leaders, Political Leaders, Business Leaders, Scientists and Development Practitioners’. The Declaration states, “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.” Pope Francis commemorated Earth Day this year with a speech of environmental stewardship, bringing the message of the environmental movement to billions of people around the world. In attendance was Earth Day Network (EDN) president Kathleen Rogers. Following the address, the Pope met with Kathleen Rogers along with Earth Day Italy and a small group of other leaders. Pope Francis referenced Earth Day as a critical moment to reflect on the spiritual and moral imperative of all people to care for the Earth and all its creatures, today and for future generations stating, “The Earth is our environment to protect and the garden to tend to.” The Vatican climate summit and the papal encyclical fall within a crucial time period for climate change policy. In December, Paris hosts COP 21, a gathering of international leaders conjoining to establish rules and regulations for climate change.