ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS TO THE PARTICIPANTS OF THE MEETING PROMOTED BY THE DICASTERY FOR THE SERVICE OF THE INTEGRAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS TO THE PARTICIPANTS OF THE MEETING PROMOTED BY THE DICASTERY FOR THE SERVICE OF THE INTEGRAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

ON THE THEME: ENERGY TRANSITION AND CARE OF OUR COMMON HOUSE

Casina Pio IV, Friday, June 14, 2019

Eminence, Distinguished Managers, Investors and Experts, Ladies and Gentlemen ,

I extend a warm welcome to all of you on the occasion of this Dialogue on the Energy Transition and Protection of the Common Home. Finding yourself in Rome, after last year ‘s meeting , is a positive sign of your constant commitment to work together in a spirit of solidarity in order to promote concrete steps for the protection of our planet. For this I am grateful.

The present, according to Dialogo, takes place at a critical moment. Today’s ecological crisis, especially climate change, threatens the very future of the human family, and this is not an exaggeration. For too long we have collectively ignored the fruits of scientific analysis, and “catastrophic predictions can no longer be viewed with contempt and irony” (Enc. Laudato si ‘ , 161 ). Any discussion on climate change and the energy transition must therefore assume the best fruits of scientific research available today and allow it to be touched in depth (see ibid. , 15 ).

A significant development in the last year has been the publication of the Special Report on the Impact of Global Warming of 1.5ºC on Pre-Industrial Levels by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That Report clearly warns that the effects on the climate will be catastrophic if we exceed the 1.5ºC threshold outlined in the Paris Agreement goal. The Report also warns that it is only a little over a decade to reach this global warming barrier. In the face of a climatic emergency, we must take appropriate measures, in order to avoid committing a grave injustice towards the poor and future generations. We must act responsibly well considering the impact of our actions in the short and long term.

In fact, it is the poor who suffer the worst impact of the climate crisis. As the current situation shows, the poor are those who are most vulnerable to hurricanes, drought, floods and other extreme weather events. Therefore, courage is certainly required to respond “to the increasingly desperate cry of the earth and its poor” ( Address to the participants in the International Conference on the third anniversary of Laudato si ‘, 6 July 2018). At the same time, future generations are about to inherit a very ruined world. Our children and grandchildren should not have to pay the cost of the irresponsibility of our generation. I apologize but I would like to emphasize this: they, our children, our grandchildren will not have to pay, it is not right for them to pay the cost of our irresponsibility. In fact, as it is becoming increasingly evident, young people demand a change (see Laudato si ‘ , 13 ). “The future is ours,” the young people shout today, and they are right!

Your meeting focused on three interconnected points: first, a correct transition; second, the price of carbon; and third, transparency in reporting climate risks. These are three enormously complex problems and I thank you for having proposed them to the discussion and at your level, which is a serious, scientific level.

A correct transition, as you know, is referred to in the Preamble to the Paris Agreements. This transition involves managing the social and employment impact of moving to a low-carbon society. If managed well, this transition can generate new employment opportunities, reduce inequality and increase the quality of life for those affected by climate change.

Second, a carbon price policy is essential if humanity wants to use the resources of creation wisely. The failure to manage carbon emissions has produced a huge debt that will now have to be repaid with interest from those who come after us. Our use of common environmental resources can be considered ethical only when the social and economic costs of their use are recognized in a transparent manner and are fully supported by those who use them, rather than by other populations or future generations (see ibid. , 195 ).

The third theme, transparency in reporting climate risks, is essential because economic resources must be exploited where they can do the most good. Open, transparent, scientifically founded and regulated communication is in everyone’s interest, making it possible to move financial capital into those areas that offer the widest «possibilities for human intelligence to create and innovate, while protecting the environment and creating more job opportunities “( ibid. , 192 ).

Dear friends, time is running out! The reflections must go beyond mere exploration of what can be done, and focus on what needs to be done, from now on. We cannot afford the luxury of waiting for others to come forward, or give priority to short-term economic benefits. The climate crisis requires a determined action from us, here and now (see ibid. , 161 ) and the Church is fully committed to doing her part.

In our meeting last year , I expressed concern that “Civilization requires energy, but the use of energy should not destroy civilization!” [1] . Today a radical energy transition is needed to save our common home. There is still hope and the time remains to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, provided that there is prompt and resolute action, because we know that «human beings, capable of degrading themselves to the extreme, can also be overcome, return to choose the good and regenerate yourself “( Laudato si ‘ , 205 ).

I thank you once again for responding generously to the invitation of the Department for the Integral Human Development Service . I assure you of my prayers for your decisions; I cordially invoke the blessings of the Lord on you and your families. Thank you.

[1] Speech to the participants in the meeting for managers of the main companies in the oil, natural gas and other energy-related businesses , 9 June 2018.

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