Mes­sag­gio del San­to Padre

To Her Excel­len­cy, Mrs. Car­oli­na Schmidt,
Min­is­ter of Envi­ron­ment of Chile,
Pres­i­dent of the COP25, Twen­ty-Fifth Ses­sion of the Con­fer­ence of States Par­ties
to the Unit­ed Nations Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change
(Madrid, 2–13 Decem­ber 2019)

On Decem­ber 12, 2015, the COP 21 adopt­ed the Paris Agree­ment, the imple­men­ta­tion of which “will require con­cert­ed com­mit­ment and gen­er­ous ded­i­ca­tion by each one”.[1]

Its rapid entry into force, in less than a year, and the numer­ous meet­ings and debates aimed at reflect­ing on one of the main chal­lenges for human­i­ty,[2] that of cli­mate change, and at iden­ti­fy­ing the best ways to imple­ment the Paris Agree­ment, showed a grow­ing aware­ness on the part of the var­i­ous actors of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty of the impor­tance and need to “work togeth­er in build­ing our com­mon home”.[3]

Sad­ly, after four years, we must admit that this aware­ness is still rather weak, unable to respond ade­quate­ly to that strong sense of urgency for rapid action called for by the sci­en­tif­ic data at our dis­pos­al, such as those described by the recent Spe­cial Reports of the Inter­gov­ern­men­tal Pan­el on Cli­mate Change (IPCC).[4] These stud­ies show that the cur­rent com­mit­ments made by States to mit­i­gate and adapt to cli­mate change are far from those actu­al­ly need­ed to achieve the goals set by the Paris Agreement.

They demon­strate how far words are from con­crete actions!

Present­ly, there is a grow­ing agree­ment on the need to pro­mote process­es of tran­si­tion as well as a trans­for­ma­tion of our devel­op­ment mod­el, to encour­age sol­i­dar­i­ty and to rein­force the strong links between the fight against cli­mate change and pover­ty. This is fur­ther demon­strat­ed by the many ini­tia­tives imple­ment­ed or in progress, not only by Gov­ern­ments but also by local com­mu­ni­ties, the pri­vate sec­tor, civ­il soci­ety and indi­vid­u­als. There remains, how­ev­er, much con­cern about the abil­i­ty of such process­es to respect the time­line required by sci­ence, as well as the dis­tri­b­u­tion of the costs they require.

From this per­spec­tive, we must seri­ous­ly ask our­selves if there is the polit­i­cal will to allo­cate with hon­esty, respon­si­bil­i­ty and courage, more human, finan­cial and tech­no­log­i­cal resources to mit­i­gate the neg­a­tive effects of cli­mate change, as well as to help the poor­est and most vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions who suf­fer from them the most.[5]

Numer­ous stud­ies tell us that it is still pos­si­ble to lim­it glob­al warm­ing. To do this we need a clear, far-sight­ed and strong polit­i­cal will, set on pur­su­ing a new course that aims at refo­cus­ing finan­cial and eco­nom­ic invest­ments toward those areas that tru­ly safe­guard the con­di­tions of a life wor­thy of human­i­ty on a “healthy” plan­et for today and tomorrow.

All this calls us to reflect con­sci­en­tious­ly on the sig­nif­i­cance of our con­sump­tion and pro­duc­tion mod­els and on the process­es of edu­ca­tion and aware­ness to make them con­sis­tent with human dignity.

We are fac­ing a “chal­lenge of civ­i­liza­tion” in favour of the com­mon good and of a change of per­spec­tive that places this same dig­ni­ty at the cen­tre of our action, which is clear­ly expressed in the “human face” of cli­mate emer­gen­cies. There remains a win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty, but we must not allow it to close. We need to take advan­tage of this occa­sion through our respon­si­ble actions in the eco­nom­ic, tech­no­log­i­cal, social and edu­ca­tion­al fields, know­ing very well how our actions are interdependent.

Young peo­ple today show a height­ened sen­si­tiv­i­ty to the com­plex prob­lems that arise from this “emer­gency”. We must not place the bur­den on the next gen­er­a­tions to take on the prob­lems caused by the pre­vi­ous ones. Instead, we should give them the oppor­tu­ni­ty to remem­ber our gen­er­a­tion as the one that renewed and act­ed on — with hon­est, respon­si­ble and coura­geous aware­ness — the fun­da­men­tal need to col­lab­o­rate in order to pre­serve and cul­ti­vate our com­mon home. May we offer the next gen­er­a­tion con­crete rea­sons to hope and work for a good and dig­ni­fied future! I hope that this spir­it will ani­mate the work of COP25, for which I wish every success.

Receive, Madam Pres­i­dent, my warmest and most cor­dial greetings.

From the Vat­i­can, 1 Decem­ber 2019



[1] Words fol­low­ing the Angelus Address, 13 Decem­ber 2015.
Cfr. Lauda­to si’, n. 25.
Cfr. Lauda­to si’, n. 13. Cfr. Mes­sage to the COP 23, Mar­rakesh, 10 Novem­ber 2016.
Cfr. IPCC: Sum­ma­ry for Pol­i­cy­mak­ers of the Spe­cial Report on the impacts of glob­al warm­ing of 1.5°C above pre-indus­tri­al lev­els and relat­ed glob­al green­house gas emis­sion path­ways, in the con­text of strength­en­ing the glob­al response to the threat of cli­mate change, sus­tain­able devel­op­ment, and efforts to erad­i­cate pover­ty, 6 Octo­ber 2018. IPCC: Sum­ma­ry for Pol­i­cy­mak­ers of the Spe­cial Report on Cli­mate Change, Deser­ti­fi­ca­tion, Land Degra­da­tion, Sus­tain­able Land Man­age­ment, Food Secu­ri­ty, and Green­house Gas Flux­es in Ter­res­tri­al Ecosys­tems, 7 August 2019; IPCC: Sum­ma­ry for Pol­i­cy­mak­ers of the Spe­cial Report on The Ocean and Cryos­phere in a Chang­ing Cli­mate, 24 Sep­tem­ber 2019.
Cfr. Pope Fran­cis, Video Mes­sage to the Cli­mate Actions Sum­mit, New York, 23 Sep­tem­ber 2019.

[01976-EN.01] [Orig­i­nal text: English]