On Tuesday, the Vatican hosted a conference that brought together diplomats, scientists, and religious leaders to discuss the climate change policy. The near consensus was that man-made climate change is real, and that it's imperative that the developed world take swift action to combat it, but one group disagreed.
A group of American climate change deniers from the Chicago-based Heartland Institute also attended, warning the Vatican to stay away from such morally incisive statements.
"With the pope coming out with such strong statements on global warming and endorsing a U.N. treaty... the Vatican is essentially going to confuse Catholics into thinking that their positions on man-made global warming fears are now an article of faith."Unfortunately for the group, their message was quickly drowned out by speakers stating in no uncertain terms that climate change was a moral and religious issue, including keynote speaker U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
"It is a moral issue. It is an issue of social justice, human rights and fundamental ethics... climate change is the defining issue of our time."According to Scientific American, the Tuesday conference "sets the table" for framing the Pope's June encyclical on climate change. The highly-anticipated document will be the first high-level Papal directive of its kind to focus only on environmental issues.
The Secretary-General added, "It (the encyclical) will convey to the world that protecting our environment is an urgent moral imperative and a sacred duty for all people of faith and people of conscience."
Ban Ki-moon met with the Pope one-on-one for an intensive discussion on climate change policy. In addition to the encyclical, the Pope will speak before world leaders at the U.N. on September 25th.
All that will lead up to a U.N. conference in Paris in December that will hash out a comprehensive treaty on climate change action, or not. According to a statement from Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the December negotiations might be humanity's last hope for keeping global warming from becoming unmanageable.
According to the Guardian, the Cardinal's statement also called on the developed world to take responsibility for climate change and work to protect the world's poor from its effects
"The wealthiest countries, the ones who have benefited most from fossil fuels, are morally obligated to push forward and find solutions to climate-related change and so protect the environment and human life. They are obligated both to reduce their own carbon emissions and to help protect poorer countries from the disasters caused or exacerbated by the excesses of industrialization."He added that, "In our recklessness, we are traversing some of the planet's most fundamental natural boundaries."
Turkson wrote the drafts for the Pope's encyclical, which will likely repeat many of the themes from the conference. The Cardinal explained that more conservationist policies, innovative technology, and brave leadership are required to push the industrialized world into action.
Turkson reportedly wrote the Papal encyclical to be more readable than past documents so that it can reach a wider audience, like climate negotiators meeting in Paris.
A final statement from the Vatican conference claimed that, "human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity."
The statement leaves little confusion for Catholics on the Church's position.
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