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World News

Pope says 'planet is reaching point of no-return' on climate change

by Donna Birrell

The Pope has made some of his strongest comments yet about climate change.

He's released a document in which he says the planet is 'fast reaching a point of no return' because of global warming.

His much anticipated paper - known as Laudate Deum is an update to his landmark encyclical Laudato Si in which he challenged world leaders to commit to targets to slow global warming. It helped inform the outcome of the Paris Climate Agreement eight years ago.

In this new paper, Francis warns that we are now "unable to halt the enormous damage we have caused".

His rousing call aims to provoke governments, business and citizens into desperately needed action, warning that the “world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point”.

He’s direct in his condemnation of profit at any cost, and of the desperation of the situation: “We are now unable to halt the enormous damage we have caused. We barely have time to prevent even more tragic damage.”

The Catholic aid agency CAFOD says it’s the first time the phrase "climate crisis" has appeared in an encyclical or exhortation.

Director Christine Allen said: “As Pope Francis reminds us, human beings and the earth are not replaceable commodities. We are interdependent and connected. Yet we continue to put greed over and above our love for each other or for our planet. We echo his calls for measures that will help to re-balance our world: including phasing out all fossil fuels and investing in clean energy sources.

“World leaders – including the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – cannot shirk their responsibility to the millions around the world who have contributed least to the heating of our planet. Instead of making hundreds of trips in private jets, politicians in wealthy countries must lead the way: facing up to our historic responsibility as a major polluter, and providing more financial and technical support for communities to respond to the effects of climate change.”

Ahead of the international climate conference COP28 in Dubai next month, Laudate Deum holds world leaders and industry giants to account, questioning what has been achieved over the last decade. Laudate Deum says that prior climate conferences have had a low level of implementation as personal interests are privileged over the common good.

Christine Allen added: “Not enough progress has been made since the Pope’s ground-breaking encyclical Laudato Si. The effects of climate change and loss of biodiversity have hit the poorest the hardest.”

Laudate Deum means “Praise God” and takes the form of an ‘apostolic exhortation’ – one of the highest teachings a Pope can issue.

Barbara Echlin from the campaign group Green Christian gave her reaction to Premier.

She said: “Francis chose that title, because he’s saying that when human beings claim to take God's place, they become their own worst enemies. So it's God we praise, it’s God that's great and we are his servants here on earth.

“He doesn't mince his words. He says that in recent years, some have chosen to deride the facts about climate change. I don't think he's being extreme, he’s being honest. He's telling the truth of what the situation is - and he wants no room for complacency.”

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