Pope Francis demands 'radical' climate action at Cop26 saying 'we cannot allow this to happen'

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  • Pope Francis
    Pope Francis
    Religious leader
Pope Francis hailed a chance for change amid a 'fearful succession of crises' - LUCA ZENNARO/POOL
Pope Francis hailed a chance for change amid a 'fearful succession of crises' - LUCA ZENNARO/POOL

Pope Francis has urged world leaders to stop the “degradation of our common home” at the Cop26 climate summit.

The 84-year-old head of the Roman Catholic Church called on politicians to “commit to an urgent change of direction” with "radical" action to stop climate change creating an unlivable world, insisting “we cannot allow this to happen”.

Leaders gathering in Glasgow this weekend for the landmark UN climate conference must “provide effective responses to the present ecological crisis” and “offer concrete hope to future generations”, he added.

“Each of us, whoever and wherever we may be, can play our own part in changing the collective response to the unprecedented threat of climate change and the degradation of our common home,” the Pope told BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day.

Pope Francis said people are feeling “increasingly frail and even fearful caught up in a succession of crises” amid global warming and the Covid-19 pandemic but we have “a real chance for change”.

The UK is hosting thousands of global delegates for the delayed Conference of the Parties summit, in the hope of drawing up shared policies to keep warming below 1.5C, or a limit of 2C, as enshrined in the Paris Agreement.

Pope Francis Thought for the Day in full

Climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic have exposed our deep vulnerability and raised numerous doubts about our economic systems and the way we organise our societies.

We have lost our sense of security and are experiencing a sense of powerlessness and loss of control over our lives.

We find ourselves increasingly frail and even fearful caught up in a succession of crises in the areas of healthcare, the environment, food supplies and the economy, to say nothing of social, humanitarian and ethical crises.

All these crises are profoundly interconnected and they also forecast a perfect storm that could rupture the bones holding our society together within the greater gift of God’s creation.

Every crisis calls for vision, the ability to formulate plans and put them rapidly into action, to rethink the future of the world, our current home, and to reassess our common purpose.

These crises present us with the need to take decisions, radical decisions that are not always easy. At the same time moments of difficulty like these also present opportunities that we must not waste.

We can confront these crises by retreating into isolationism, protectionism and exploitation or we can see in them a real chance for change, a genuine moment of conversion and not simply in a spiritual sense.

This last approach alone can guide us towards a brighter horizon. Yet it can only be pursued through a renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world and an effective solidarity based on justice, a sense of our common destiny and a recognition of the unity of our human family in God’s plan for the world.

Pope Francis Cop26
Pope Francis Cop26

All this represents an immense cultural challenge, it means giving priority to the common good and it calls for a change of perspective, a new outlook in which the dignity of every human being now and in the future will guide our ways of thinking and acting.

The most important lesson we can take from these crises is our need to build together so there will no longer be any borders, barriers or political walls for us to hide behind.

Some days ago on October 4, I met with religious leaders and scientists to sign a joint appeal in which we called upon ourselves and our political leaders to act in a more responsible and consistent manner.

I was impressed by something said by one of the scientists at that meeting, he told us if things continue as they are, in 50 years time my baby granddaughter will have to live in an unlivable world. We cannot allow this to happen.

Pope Francis Cop26
Pope Francis Cop26

It’s essential that each of us be committed to this urgent change of direction, sustained by our own faith and spirituality. In the joint appeal we spoke of the need to work responsibly towards a culture of care for our common home but also for ourselves.

We need to work tirelessly to eliminate the seeds of conflict, greed, indifference, ignorance, fear, injustice, insecurity and violence.

Humanity has never before had at its disposal so many means for achieving this goal. The political decision makers who will meet at Cop26 in Glasgow are urgently summoned to provide effective responses to the present ecological crisis and in this way to offer concrete hope to future generations.

And it is worth repeating, each of us, whoever and wherever we may be, can play our own part in changing the collective response to the unprecedented threat of climate change and the degradation of our common home.

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