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Vatican Says Climate Change Is ‘Global Problem with Grave Implications’

EU sets goal to be 'climate neutral' by 2050
dpa/AFP/Oliver Berg
THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

The Vatican has called for the “decarbonisation of the current fossil fuel-based economy” in its hard-hitting final declaration for the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, Poland, Wednesday.

Climate change, the declaration states, “is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods.”

The Vatican praised global leaders who “struggled to find the will to set aside their short-term economic and political interests and work for the common good,” finding consensus in a rulebook for the implementation of the Paris Agreement adopted in 2015.

The summit and its agreements are an example of “multilateral dialogue,” which is critical for combatting climate change, the Vatican stated.

Unfortunately, it continued, the rulebook does not adequately reflect the “urgency necessary to tackle climate change,” which represents “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

Advancing “the dignity of the human person, alleviating poverty by the promotion of integral human development, and easing the impact of climate change through responsible mitigation and adaptation measures go hand in hand,” it said.

The Vatican also called for a reasonable “transition period,” presumably reflecting the time necessary to move from fossil fuels to alternative forms of energy.

Using the language of vocation, the Vatican text says that we are “called” to limit the average global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

It also urged “much greater ambition” in anti-CO2 programs in order to achieve “the decarbonisation of the current fossil fuel-based economy,” which will demand “lifestyle changes.”

When U.S. presidential adviser Wells Griffith spoke on the benefits of clean-burning fossil fuels in a panel discussion on the side of the Katowice summit, he was repeatedly interrupted by hecklers.

“We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability,” Griffith said.

The panel underscored the importance of cheap fossil fuels as a means for developing nations to emerge from poverty.

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