Forest fires in Australia  (AFP or licensors)

By Vatican News

Dec 11 2020

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin sends a video-message to a webinar marking two important milestones: 2015, the year of the adoption of the Paris Agreement, and 2021, the year of COP-26 in Glasgow.

It’s been five years since the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement and since then its implementation still remains an “uphill” journey.

Those were the words of Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin in a video-message to participants attending a virtual panel discussion on Thursday entitled, “Facing Climate Change: From Paris to Glasgow via Milan,” organized by the Embassies of France, the United Kingdom and Italy to the Holy See.

Cardinal Parolin noted the numerous studies that show “current commitments undertaken by nations to mitigate and adapt to climate change are far from those actually needed to achieve the goals set by the Paris Agreement.”

Social and cultural challenge

On the other hand, he said, as the world faces problems including the Covid-19 pandemic and global warming, “we find ourselves facing a real social and cultural challenge.”

In response to this challenge, said the Cardinal, we need to develop a new cultural model, a “culture of care.”

He added that it should be “care for oneself, for others and for the environment, in place of a culture of indifference, decay and waste, in which we end up discarding ourselves, others and the environment.”

Awareness, wisdom, will

This new cultural model, Cardinal Parolin explained, “should incorporate three concepts: awareness, wisdom and will”, capable of breathing “life” into the Paris Agreement.The first concept – awareness – he pointed out, “has to do with the centrality of research in both the physical sciences and the human sciences, so as to bring different disciplines into dialogue and thus increase the breadth of our awareness and knowledge.”

This, the Secretary of State added, calls for wisdom, which he described as “an evaluative lens shaped by broad and constructive ethical insights.”

 “The corpus of the Church’s social doctrine, with its wisdom born of long experience, can prove most helpful in this regard,” said the Cardinal.

In particular, he noted, “the rich teaching” contained in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’.

Focusing on the third concept of will, Cardinal Parolin emphasized that when applied to the larger community, it becomes political will

With regards to both awareness and wisdom, the Cardinal highlighted that there has been significant progress in these areas over the last five years in the form of practical solutions, and increased participation by civil society in discussions on climate change and its impact on “present and future generations.”

However, he acknowledged, “Growth in the area of political will, seems slower.” 

“Strengthening political will is one of the reasons why we are here, not only to celebrate past events like the adoption of the Paris Agreement, but also future events like the high-level virtual “Climate Ambition Summit” due to take place in two days’ time, or COP-26 and its preparatory process, set for the second half of the coming year,” he said.

Concrete decisions

Now more than ever, the Cardinal underlined, we are summoned “to see the present socioeconomic, environmental and ethical crisis as an opportunity to encourage a change in our lifestyle and to take concrete decisions that can no longer be deferred.”

He also stressed that the COP-26 meeting and the high-level virtual Climate Ambition Summit, present an opportunity “to state clearly that the time has come for making those changes in lifestyle and taking those concrete and non-deferrable decisions.” 

Pope Francis’ intervention

During the video-message, the Secretary of State, announced that Pope Francis will participate in the virtual Climate Ambition Summit, on 12 December, during which he will emphasize two points:

The first is, “the covenant between human beings” that pays particular attention to the “most frail and vulnerable persons in our midst.”

The second point refers to “political and technical solutions” that favour an educational process that “encourages, especially among young people, new lifestyles and a new sense of our common humanity, leading to changes in the way we see things.”

Concluding his video-message, Cardinal Parolin said that the COP-26 meeting “will certainly reaffirm the importance of the Paris Agreement.”

He also noted that it “will be an important moment for measuring and encouraging the collective will and the degree of ambition of individual states.” – Vatican News