July 7 (UPI) — Pope Francis on Friday urged governments to honor the Paris climate agreement — or else, he said, the Earth will turn into “rubble, deserts and refuse.”
The pope spoke at a conference marking the third anniversary of his Laudato Si’ encyclical in 2015, which included similar warnings about human interaction with the environment, particularly as it relates to climate change.
“The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes,” Pope Francis said Friday. “There is a real danger that we will leave future generations only rubble, deserts and refuse.”
The pope referred to this year’s COP24 environmental summit, set for Poland in December, saying discussions there could be significant for the path set out by the 2015 Paris agreement, which set stringent standards to restrict carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases.
“We all know that much still needs to be done to implement that agreement. All governments should strive to honor the commitments made in Paris, in order to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis,” the pope said. “Reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility, above all on the part of those countries which are more powerful and pollute the most.
“We cannot afford to waste time.”
In his remarks, the pope also said institutions like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank could play important roles in spurring reforms.
“It is to be hoped that finance … will go back to being an instrument directed towards improved wealth creation and development, as well as towards care for the environment,” he said.
Pope Francis said the world now has too many special interests, and economic interests can easily trump the common good.
“Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start. Please continue to work for the radical change which present circumstances require,” he said.
In closing, the pontiff looked to Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint for the environment, for inspiration.
“May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.”