Climate change is taking place. It is a global problem influenced by human activity, and religious institutions should be leading the way in responding, a Vatican report said.
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS) and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS) issued a formal statement in late April affirming these ideas and connecting climate change, creation care and the common good.
A declaration opening the publication called climate change “a dominant moral and ethical issue for society” and asserted that addressing it “will depend on our stepping beyond national affiliations and coming together for the common good.”
The declaration also urged religious organizations to “take the lead in bringing about that change in attitude towards creation.”
PAS/PASS said that a coordinated response to climate change is essential to preserving both nature and human life.
The negative environmental impact of climate change is most readily observed in deforestation, land degradation and air pollution, which disproportionately impacts less affluent persons and nations.
“The 3 billion poorest people continue to have only a minimal role in the global warming pollution, yet are certain to suffer the worst consequences of unabated climate change,” PAS/PASS asserted.
The statement included a historical overview of the current situation and answered questions such as: “How did we get here?” “What are the changes we have already seen?” and “What are the impacts on the natural ecosystems?”
These discussions were followed by an overview of the negative impact that a “business as usual approach” would have and a reflection on needed societal and economic reforms.
PAS/PASS concluded by offering recommended measures to address climate change. These included:
1. Reducing worldwide carbon dioxide emissions and other air pollutants.
2. Preparing the most vulnerable 3 billion people to adapt to the climate changes, while helping them meet their energy needs.
3. Reorienting our attitude toward nature and, thereby, toward ourselves.
“The case for prioritizing climate-change mitigation depends crucially on accepting the fact that we have a responsibility not only towards those who are living in poverty today, but also to generations yet unborn,” PAS/PASS declared.
This idea connects with the long-time commitment of Robert Parham, EthicsDaily.com’s executive editor, in asserting that creation care is a means of “loving our neighbors across time.”
The PAS/PASS statement, along with a one-day Vatican conference on climate change, previews the forthcoming papal encyclical on the environment, expected to be published in June or July.
The full statement is available here.