Two years after he took over as leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis is driving home the message which will surely define his papacy: start taking care of the planet.
His second papal encyclical, a form of open letter, was published in May this year to the delight of millions around the world. It detailed his concerns about climate change, and its effects on biodiversity, global resources and poverty. It is agreed that the changing climate will impact developing nations more.
By creating a link between climate change and socio-economic equality, Francis is arguing for sustainable forms of global development, and for the greater need for businesses to focus on job creation, not just profits. Therefore, it makes sense for the church to jump into the debate, given it advocates for social equality.
Challenges remain in Francis’ long battle, as countries and businesses still need to be persuaded to invest and use renewable energy and technology. The upcoming UN climate conference in Paris this November, which he referred to in his speech to the General Assembly, is going to be a major test.
The aim of reaching a viable, realistic global agreement for the first time since the Kyoto Protocol is optimistic, but one which the Pope thinks is possible. We’re going to have to wait and see – but we can’t wait too long.
Excerpt from NewStatesman, September 28, 2015 by Emad Ahmed