Vatican and U.N. team up on climate change against sceptics

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says climate change is an “urgent moral imperative” as he meets the pope at the Vatican.

VATICAN (APRIL 28, 2015) (REUTERS) – The Vatican and the United Nations teamed up to warn the world of the effects of climate change on Tuesday (April 28), coming down firmly against sceptics who deny human activities help change global weather patterns.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon discussed climate change with the pope before opening a one-day conference of scientists and religious leaders called “The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development”.

The pope, who is due to make a major address on sustainable development at the United Nations in September, has said he believes man is primarily responsible for climate change and is writing an encyclical on the environment.

Ban, opening the conference of some 60 scientists, religious leaders and diplomats hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, urged industrialised countries to invest in clean energy and reduce their carbon footprints.

“The faith leaders gathered here today, together with the scientists, are united in reminding us that addressing climate change is an urgent moral imperative, caring for the planet and caring for those who suffer from climate impact, especially the poor and most vulnerable is a moral responsibility. All people of faith and conscience can agree on this,” Ban told journalists at a news briefing.

The gathering’s joint declaration said “human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive control is a moral imperative for all of humanity”.

“Religion and science are aligned in emphasising the need for action, the need for a global action. Science tells us that climate change is occurring now and approaching much faster than one may think and that human activities are the principle cause. We are at a critical tipping point. Collectively, the world must stem and then reverse the rise in global emissions. We have only a handful of years before the window of opportunity closes for ever, or we risk the increasing likelihood of severe pervasive and irreversible climate impact,” said Ban.

The UN secretary general also emphasised the need for all to take action.

“What is clear, what is important is the moral commitment of political leaders, the political will, that is important: to mobilise the will of the people and to lead the people. It requires that not only scientists, the economists, every citizen, every one of you should be part of this process,” he said.

Ban said he and the pope discussed Francis’ keenly awaited encyclical, which will be addressed to all of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholic and is expected to address the issue of man’s responsibility for climate change.

The pope has said he hopes the document will influence the U.N. conference on climate change in Paris this year.