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[Column] Warning from Pope Francis, Guardian of Climate Justice


writer admin date18-09-11 13:18 hit : 259


Source : Jeonnam Ilbo, Released on Aug 22nd, 2018


Warning from Pope Francis, Guardian of Climate Justice


-  Article by Mr. Lim Nak Pyong,

Secretary General of Urban Environmental Accords (UEA)

President of International Climate and Environment Center

The severe heat has subsided a little by the end of August. People will be relieved and thankful to see the weather getting cooler as the year draws closer to the end of the third quarter. This year, unprecedented heat waves and tropical nights have hit South Korea, with record temperatures topping 40°C. Not just in Korea, but around the world, cities in Asia, North America, Europe and northern Africa have suffered from heatwaves, forest fires, floods and drought. Scientists says this extreme weather is caused by climate change, and it will become more severe unless efforts are made to mitigate it.

According to the World Resource Institute, greenhouse gases in the earth have continuously increased, so the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased from 2PPM to almost 410PPM. Back in 2015, nearly all of the world’s countries gathered together to sign the Paris Agreement that committed to efforts to limit the increase in global temperature to less than 2°C above ‘pre-industrial’ levels, with an aspirational 1.5°C limit, including aggressive reductions in greenhouse gases. While there have not yet been any positive radical changes, the U.N. will take further actions to set up a detailed action plan for the agreement.

The next several years will be a critical time for climate change response as the qualities of lives, for both the present and future generations, depend on the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, including lowering the level of atmospheric CO2, is key to the safety of mankind, and the path to climate justice and peace for humanity.

Some major figures are raising their voices to make a difference, with Pope Francis among them. Back on May 24, 2015, six months before the Paris Agreement, he released “Pope Francis’ Encyclical on the Environment”, a historic announcement that encouraged leaders around the globe to make decisions and for citizens take actions. Ever since the start of his papacy in 2013, he has constantly spoken on the issue of climate change and the environment, and visited related sites. His actions have been broadly welcomed by the public and the media.

His actions continued this year. The 3-year anniversary of the release of the Pope’s Encyclical was held last July under the theme “On Care for Our Common Home”, and was attended by presidents of climate-related organizations, experts, and religious leaders, as well as natives from the Amazon rainforest, and citizens from islands vulnerable to the effects of climate change. As he delivered his speech, he emphasized that “our planet also needs urgently to be repaired and secured for a sustainable future,” warning that the modern unsustainable lifestyle “can only precipitate catastrophes, such as those which even now periodically occur in different areas of the world. There is a real danger that we will leave future generations only rubble, deserts and refuse.” He stressed that “we cannot afford to waste time,” and urged states, local authorities, civil society, and economic and religious institutions to promote the culture and practice of an integral ecology, and that all countries must strive to comply with the Paris Agreement.

Additionally, a conference last June at the Vatican Summit themed “Energy Transition and Care of Our Common Home” was attended by CEOs and energy experts from renowned multilateral corporations, including ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, and Royal Dutch. In his closing remarks, the Pope expressed concern at the “the continued search for new fossil fuel reserves, whereas the Paris Agreement clearly urged keeping most fossil fuels underground” and delivered resounding demands to “transition and … search for alternatives.” He warned that “civilization requires energy, but energy use must not destroy civilization!” The speech was highly unusual considering it was delivered directly to the leaders of world’s biggest fossil fuel companies.

As time goes by, so the severe heat will fade this year with the end of summer. But the heat does not go away for good. It will come back on a bigger scale unless necessary actions are taken. We must all listen to the Pope’s warning that we have no time to lose, so we can take the path of life, peace, safety, and climate justice.