Pope Francis released a new document criticizing climate skeptics and urging world leaders to take action before it’s too late. The pope chastises Western nations, particularly the U.S., for the irresponsible lifestyle that is causing damage to the planet. In the letter, titled Laudate Deum (“Praise God”), the pope warns that the world we are living in “is collapsing and may be nearing breaking point.”
Published on October 4, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the document comes just eight years after the 2015 encyclical Laudato Si in which the pope called for global efforts to tackle climate change.
This time, however, compelled by an increasing sense of urgency due to the worsening environmental calamity, the pope rings the alarm even louder, stating that “our responses have not been adequate.”
The pope appeals to governments and decision-makers to make vital political decisions to avert the imminent environmental tragedy.
The apostolic exhortation recognizes, on one hand, some progress in combating climate change. On the other hand, it cautions of the slow pace and even inaction of governments vis a vis the urgency of climate degradation.
Past agreements at the UN conferences have not been materialized and monitoring mechanisms have not been in place. The promises by wealthier nations to provide financial assistance to poorer nations to adapt to cleaner sources of energy were not fulfilled. Crucial decisions taken at international summits were hardly binding leaving the countries free to commit themselves or not.
In Laudate Deum, Pope Francis expresses his frustration at the resistance by the climate change deniers who spread misinformation and confusion about the reality of climate change. Drawing on technical and scientific data as well as on statements by the episcopal conferences from around the world, the pope writes that “this is no longer a secondary or ideological question, but a drama that harms us all.”
The pope has written this letter because of the 28th UN Convention on Climate Change, known as COP28, which will occur from November 30 to December 12 in Dubai. Will the delegates at the worldwide summit come up with decisions that are not legally binding and without enforcing mechanisms?
Pope Francis concludes the encyclical exhortation: “We must move beyond the mentality of appearing to be concerned but not having the courage needed to produce substantial changes.” So, we must act without delay.