In his most apocalyptic language to date, Pope Francis told reporters aboard the papal plane returning from Africa that the COP21 climate change conference in Paris is the last chance for humanity to avert environmental destruction.
The pope discussed global warming and other issues during an hour-long press conference aboard the papal plane following his six-day trip to Africa.
Asked whether he believes that the leaders gathered in Paris will take important steps to combat climate change, Francis said, “I’m not sure, but I can say that it is now or never.”
Little was accomplished at the 1997 Kyoto conference, Francis said, and since then “every year the problems are more serious.”
The Pope recounted discussing with college students about what sort of world we want to leave our children, when one of the students asked: “But are you sure that there will be children from this generation?”
“We are on the edge of suicide,” Francis said, “but I am sure that just about everybody meeting in Paris is aware of this and wants to do something.”
“The other day I read that in Greenland the glaciers have lost billions of tons,” Francis continued. “In the Pacific there is a country that is buying another country in order to move, because in 20 years it’s going to disappear. I believe in these people, that they will do something. I hope so, and I pray for it,” he said.
The Pope also had strong words regarding Africa’s place in the world, calling it a “victim” and a “martyr” that has “always been exploited by other powers.”
“There are powers that only look to take possession of Africa’s great riches,” he said, “but they don’t think about helping the African nations to grow, or about creating jobs.”
“That’s why I love Africa,” he said, “because it has been the victim of other powers.”
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