Pope Francis says climate change is “mostly” man-made

During his flight from Sri Lanka to Manila on Thursday (Jan. 15) Pope Francis told reporters that man was primarily responsible for climate change. According to Reuters, the Pope answered to the specific question about if man was mostly to blame for climate change: “I don’t know if it is all (man’s fault) but the majority is, for the most part, it is man who continuously slaps down nature,” he said. “We have, in a sense, lorded it over nature, over Sister Earth, over Mother Earth”, “I think man has gone too far, thank God that today there are voices that are speaking out about this”.

These statements made during his tour of Asia were covered by several international media and are considered the clearest opinions on climate change expressed by Pope Francis so far. Nonetheless, his intention to weight on the issue has been well-known for months now.

In December, in a speech directed to negotiators and government leaders gathered  for the CPO20 climate conference in Lima, the Pope said that what they were discussing “affects all humanity, especially the poor and future generations” and it was “a serious ethical and moral responsibility”, warning that “the time to find global solutions is running out”. Talking about the latest climate conference in Peru, Francis said on Thursday “it was nothing much, it disappointed me. I think there was a lack of courage. They stopped at a certain point. Let’s hope the delegates in Paris will be more courageous and move forward with this”, Reuters reported.

In order to encourage action at the next key climate talks in Paris in December this year (where representatives of all countries are expected to sign a new global climate deal), the Pope is planning to publish a long-awaited encyclical on the environment that he reportedly said it can be disclosed in June ( New Scientist reported that it “may be published as early as March”).

The document will be the first encyclical to address concerns about a global environmental issue, and will provide “important orientation” to all Catholics to support action on climate change, according to Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Social Sciences in Vatican City, that announced it in November during a lecture in London focused on climate change and poverty.

In May the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Academy of Social Sciences organized a four-day joint workshop on sustainable development in Rome. The event called “Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility” was attended high-level experts in the field of environmental sciences and in their final statement they wrote that “the warming and associated extreme weather will reach unprecedented levels in our children’s life times and 40% of the world’s poor, who have a minimal role in generating global pollution, are likely to suffer the most”.

The Pope’s moves on climate change are substantially endorsing the scientific consensus on global warming and are likely to anger climate deniers (especially among Vatican conservatives and in rightwing church circles, particularly in the US, noted The Guardian). Observers also highlighted that these developments can move the climate change debate and need for action from an exclusively scientific and economic ground to including also moral considerations.


(Image: General Audience with Pope Francis, 17 April 2013. Photo credit: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk on Flickr)