Pope at COP28: Choose life to protect the planet
Dubai (AsiaNews) - "It is useless to cling to an authority that will one day be remembered for its inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so." This is the harsh warning that Pope Francis addressed to the governments of the world gathered in Dubai for COP28, the annual UN Conference on the fight against climate change.
A few weeks after the publication of the apostolic exhortation Laudate Deum, cited several times in his speech, the pontiff would have liked to be there in person to ask everyone to listen to "the groaning of the earth" and "the cry of the poor". Lung inflammation forced him to stay in Rome; but his words on the need for "2024 to be the year of the turning point" were nevertheless read in the large hall of Expo City in Dubai where delegations from all over the world are gathered by the Cardinal Vatican Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin.
Francis warns: "the destruction of the environment is an offence against God, a sin that is not only personal but also structural, one that greatly endangers all human beings, especially the most vulnerable in our midst and threatens to unleash a conflict between generations.. I am with you to ask the question we are called to answer now: are we working towards a culture of life or death?”.
He defines as "established" the fact that the climate changes underway derive from global warming, mainly caused by the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, in turn caused by human activity. “The ambition to produce and possess - he comments - has turned into obsession and has resulted in limitless greed, which has made the environment the object of unbridled exploitation”. For the Pope, the crazy climate is “a warning to stop the delirium of omnipotence. Let us return to recognizing our limitations with humility and courage as the only way to live fully."
He criticizes the fact that even in the face of this great global challenge, national interests prevail over the common good. He stigmatizes those who claim to justify themselves by citing what others have done in the past. But above all he says he is struck by the "attempts to shift responsibility onto the many poor people and the number of births. They are taboos that must be firmly debunked."
“The poor are the real victims of what is happening: we need think only of the plight of indigenous peoples, deforestation, the tragedies of hunger, water and food insecurity, and forced migration. Births are not a problem, but a resource: they are not opposed to life, but for life, whereas certain ideological and utilitarian models now being imposed with a velvet glove on families and peoples constitute real forms of colonization. The development of many countries, already burdened by grave economic debt, should not be penalized; instead, we should consider the footprint of a few nations responsible for a deeply troubling “ecological debt” towards many others (cf. ibid., 51-52). It would only be fair to find suitable means of remitting the financial debts that burden different peoples, not least in light of the ecological debt that they are owed.".
Francis reiterates his concern for the crisis of multilateralism, the weakening of the idea that we belong to a single human family. “It applies to the care of creation as well as to peace – he recalls -. How much energy is humanity wasting in the many ongoing wars, such as in Israel and Palestine, in Ukraine and in many regions of the world: conflicts that will not solve the problems, but will increase them".
He calls for a political change as a response to climate change: "is essential that there be a breakthrough that is not a partial change of course, but rather a new way of making progress together", he explains. He asks the Dubai COP to be a turning point: "it manifests a clear and tangible political will, which leads to a decisive acceleration of the ecological transition, through forms that are efficient, binding and easily monitored. And they find realization in four fields: energy efficiency; renewable sources; the elimination of fossil fuels; education in lifestyles less dependent on the latter".
“It's about not putting it off any longer - he adds - to implement, not just hope for, the good of your children, your citizens, your countries, our world. Be the architects of a policy that gives concrete and cohesive answers, demonstrating the nobility of the role you play, the dignity of the service you perform".
Finally, he reminds the world that 2024 will mark 800 years since the day on which Francis of Assisi composed the Canticle of Creatures. “He did it after a night spent in physical pain, now completely blind," - the Pope recalls.
"After a night of physical suffering, his spirits were elevated by a mystical experience. He then turned to praise the Most High for all those creatures that he could no longer see, but knew that they were his brothers and sisters, since they came forth from the same Father and were shared with other men and women. An inspired sense of fraternity thus led him to turn his pain into praise and his weariness into renewed commitment. Shortly thereafter, Francis added a stanza in which he praised God for those who forgive; he did this in order to settle – successfully – an unbecoming conflict between the civil authorities and the local bishop. I too, who bear the name Francis, with the heartfelt urgency of a prayer, want to leave you with this message: Let us leave behind our divisions and unite our forces! And with God’s help, let us emerge from the dark night of wars and environmental devastation in order to turn our common future into the dawn of a new and radiant day."