VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis is to warn that global warming threatens the planet and declare a moral imperative to reduce fossil fuel consumption, Vatican sources said on Tuesday.
A landmark Church statement on the environment, due to be officially released on Thursday, places the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics firmly in the camp of those who say climate change is mainly man-made.
His input comes at a critical time in the global debate over what, if anything, can be done to reverse climate change and its effects.
The papal intervention, seen as a potential game-changer by green groups, comes six months before international leaders gather in Paris to try and seal a global deal on steps to reduce carbon emissions.
Francis will outline his views in the form of an encyclical, a statement of fundamental principles designed to guide Catholic teaching on a subject that is issued as a letter from the pope to bishops around the world.
This one will be pitched beyond the confines of the Church and emphasize the pope’s view of a clear link between defending the environment and delivering social justice.
The encyclical, entitled “Laudato Si” (Be Praised), will reference the views of climate change skeptics who are particularly influential in the United States by acknowledging that natural cases such as volcanic activity have contributed to the phenomenon of rising average temperatures.
But it will leave no doubt that the Pope believes that the causes are mainly human, and that that creates a compelling case for action to phase out fossil fuels and develop alternative energy sources, according to excerpts from a leaked draft published online by Italian weekly L’Espresso.
The scoop was not appreciated by Vatican officials, who stripped the magazine’s reporter Sandro Magister of his accreditation for an indefinite period, accusing him of breaching an embargo on publication.