Key Quotes: Climate Change and the Common Good

heartfootprintsThe “ecology encyclical” will be released on Thursday this week. As part of my preparation I’ve been reviewing the material from a number of conferences convened by the Vatican over the last year related to climate change. These conferences have gathered the world’s top scientists, policy makers, and religious leaders to create consensus on the needed next steps in addressing climate change and to create enough social pressure to push obstinate political and business leaders toward conversion of heart and low-carbon sustainable practices and policies.

Here are a few quotes from “Climate Change and the Common Good” presented at the Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity gathering in April organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and Religions for Peace.

A sustainable future based on the continued extraction of coal, oil and gas and their use in the “business-as-usual mode” will not be possible, because it raises the specter of a world that could be significantly warmer than 2°C by the end of this century.–Climate Change and the Common Good (April 2015, The Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences)

There is still time, however, to mitigate unmanageable climate changes and thus to protect humanity and nature. Adequate technological solutions and policy options have been clearly prescribed in numerous reports and need no extended repetition here. Suffice it to note that the most important steps involve the shift from fossil fuels to zero-carbon and low carbon sources and technologies, coupled with a reversal of deforestation, land degradation, and air pollution. In contemplating these needed “deep de-carbonization” transformations, however, we must not ignore the underlying socio-economic factors that are responsible for our current predicament.–Climate Change and the Common Good (April 2015, The Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences)

The Catholic Church, working with the leadership of other religions, could take a decisive role in helping to solve this problem. The Church could accomplish this by mobilizing public opinion and public funds to meet the energy needs of the poorest 3 billion in a way that does not contribute to global warming but would allow them to prepare better for the challenges of unavoidable climate change. The case for prioritizing climate-change mitigation depends crucially on accepting the fact that we have a responsibility not only towards those who are living in poverty today, but also to generations yet unborn. We have to reduce the potentially catastrophic threat that hangs over so many people.–Climate Change and the Common Good (April 2015, The Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences)

Over and above institutional reforms, policy changes and technological innovations for affordable access to zero-carbon energy sources, there is a fundamental need to reorient our attitude toward nature and, thereby, toward ourselves. Finding ways to develop a sustainable relationship with our planet requires not only the engagement of scientists, political leaders and civil societies, but ultimately also a moral revolution. Religious institutions can and should take the lead on bringing about such a new attitude towards Creation.–Climate Change and the Common Good (April 2015, The Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences)

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