World should respond to climate change as if hit by a global war, pope tells COP26

November 3, 2021 - 12:04 PM
Pope Francis attends the weekly general audience at the Paul VI Audience Hall, at the Vatican, October 13, 2021. (Reuters/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo)

GLASGOW — Pope Francis said on Tuesday that the twin wounds inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change were comparable to those caused by a global conflict and should be confronted in the same way.

In a message to the U.N. COP26 climate talks read in Glasgow by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Francis also said rich countries had an outstanding “ecological debt” with poorer countries because of the disproportionate use of natural resources from developing nations by advanced ones.

“The wounds inflicted on our human family by the COVID-19 pandemic and the phenomenon of climate change are comparable to those resulting from a global conflict,” he said.

He called for the implementation of collegial and farsighted action “as in the aftermath of the Second World War” in which nations show solidarity and cooperation for the good of all, particularly the weakest.

Countries with greater means should take the lead in “decarbonization in the economic system and in people’s lives” and provide more support to the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Rich countries owed an “ecological debt” to make amends for the “disproportionate use of the natural resources of one’s own and of other countries”, he said.

“Now is the time to act, urgently, courageously and responsibly,” he said.

“The young, who in recent years have strongly urged us to act, will only inherit the planet we choose to leave to them, based on the concrete choices we make today. Now is the moment for decisions that can provide them with reasons for hope and trust in the future,” Francis said.

The 84-year-old pope, who has made protection of the environment a cornerstone of his pontificate, had said several times that he hoped to attend COP26, but the Vatican announced on Oct. 8 that Parolin would head its delegation. It gave no explanation. —Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alex Richardson