Compassion and solidarity at the heart of the moral case for climate action
I welcome the first Papal Encyclical on humanity’s relationship with the environment released today. It is significant that Pope Francis uses one of the highest forms of doctrinal teaching, to communicate that preserving a safe climate system ‘represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.’
The Encyclical is a call for climate justice from one of the most influential moral voices on our planet today. In it Pope Francis shows his profound understanding of the connection between nature, justice for people living in poverty, human dignity and the need to act in solidarity in the face of climate change.
Above all else, Pope Francis establishes climate change and safeguarding the earth for humanity as the moral issue of our time. I am heartened that he places equal emphasis on our responsibility to care for people living in vulnerable situations as our responsibility to care for nature.
Many of us have tried to bring a people-centred approach to climate change over the years and the Encyclical adds real weight to our arguments. It frames climate change as a human issue, of justice and fairness, and reminds us that the earth is ‘a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone’. I am pleased to see references to climate change in the context of intergenerational equity, poverty eradication, social justice and human rights – all of which add to the moral case for action.
We need transformative leadership to overcome the climate challenge and this Encyclical answers that call in both its sentiment and in the scale of its reach. It calls on us all to act in solidarity, to protect the most vulnerable people and to safeguard the earth and its resources for current and future generations. I hope many of all faiths and none will hear it and be compelled to act in this significant year of 2015.
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The full Encyclical on climate change by Pope Francis is available for download here.
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for climate Impact Reseach and Member of the High Level Advisory Committe of the Climate Justice Dialogue, was present at the press conference on the release of the papal encyclical. Watch what he thinks about climate justice and human solidarity: