SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Vatican officials and other Catholic leaders around the globe believe the challenge of climate change requires a consensus-based approach rooted in solidarity, saying world leaders’ failure to come together and fully implement previous agreements is a threat to human well-being and the health of the planet.
At the U.N. climate conference, COP27, religious leaders met various delegations of civil society groups, climate activists, experts and other faith-based organizations to deliberate on how to achieve climate neutrality — net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The Church leaders noted that such conversations across groups are essential in developing a consensus-based approach to decision-making in addressing climate change.
Leaders at the Nov. 6-18 climate summit were to discuss and commit to implementing strategies for such things as financing countries’ emissions-reduction goals and establishing new ambitions to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. But Church leaders say world leaders have not made significant progress on those goals yet, and it’s time for them to take action and save the planet from multiple climate hazards.
“There is no vision related to the environment from all the discussions of climatic factors we have received from the convening,” Archbishop Nicolas Thévenin, apostolic nuncio to Egypt, said. “Our role is to focus on the spirit of togetherness that should be there and dominating all the meetings and topics being discussed. We should also find a solution on how as a Church we must fight climate change and share the same ideas with other groups attending this event.”
The archbishop is the deputy head of the Holy See’s delegation, which for the first time has official representation at a Conference of Parties summit since they started almost three decades ago. Earlier this year, the Vatican announced it had become a formal party to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
At a Nov. 10 side event co-hosted by the Holy See, Senegal and Madeleine Diouf Sarr, chair of the Least Developed Countries group at the climate conference, the archbishop pleaded with wealthy nations to work together and find a solution to all climate-related issues and not to forget vulnerable communities suffering from the impact of polluting countries.
“It is imperative that we build bridges of solidarity. Those who are most vulnerable to the ravages of climate change are urgently calling for real support in this moment of crisis,” Archbishop Thévenin said in his statement addressing Catholics in the Senegal pavilion.
Different Catholic organizations attending the convening agreed with his views and those of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, who had earlier addressed the world leaders, reminding them that each had a responsibility to take action on climate change.
“We cannot allow for this to happen. Climate change will not wait for us. Our world is now far too interdependent and cannot permit itself to be structured into unsustainable isolated blocks of countries,” Cardinal Parolin said in his speech Nov. 8. “This is a time for international and intergenerational solidarity. We need to be responsible, courageous and forward-looking, not just for ourselves, but for our children.”