Cardinal Pietro Parolin in May delivered an important talk to a conference in Rome on “the new climate economy.” This talk is being seen as a type of “preview” of what the upcoming encyclical of Pope Francis on the environment may say…
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin addressed a message to attendees of a May 20 conference in Rome on “The New Climate Economy: How Economic Growth and Sustainability Can Go Hand in Hand.” The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, chaired by former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, sponsored the conference of Church and business leaders to discuss how sustainable practices can drive the economic growth needed to lift people out of poverty.
A main objective of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate is to “demonstrate that the goals of improving economic performance and reducing climate risk can complement each other.” The commission contends that, contrary to fears, mitigating climate change is actually indispensable to economic growth and the alleviation of poverty.
Cardinal Parolin’s remarks came amid widespread anticipation of Pope Francis’ imminent encyclical on the environment. Some characterized the brief address as part of a “rollout” of the Pope’s encyclical, which is expected to address both climate change and world economic structures that cause poverty and offend against the dignity of the human person, especially the most vulnerable.
The encyclical may have a significant impact on both the United Nations Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda in New York in September and the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December.
Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, who helped draft the encyclical, told a Vatican conference on sustainability, “This is not just about business and profits.” He said businesses have a responsibility to produce “goods that are good and services that truly serve…and provide a benefit for others and not just for themselves.”
As an example, he noted that in the United States, there are now “more jobs in solar energy than in the coal sector.”
The Vatican’s formal addressing of the issue of climate change has been criticized by some, who worry that the Pope is wading into scientific and political waters beyond the scope of Catholic teaching. Cardinal Turkson disagrees; it is not politics, he said, but observable reality the Pope is addressing. “The issue,” he said, “is how much people are aware of scientific data that the climate is changing.”
Rome, May 20, 2015
I have the honor to send warm greetings to all participating in today’s Conference on “The New Climate Economy: How Economic Growth and Sustainability Can Go Hand in Hand.”
I would like to start my brief reflection by recalling the following passage of the Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate of Pope Benedict XVI:
“The human consequences of current tendencies towards a short-term economy — sometimes very short-term — need to be carefully evaluated. This requires further and deeper reflection on the meaning of the economy and its goals, as well as a profound and far-sighted revision of the current model of development, so as to correct its dysfunctions and deviations. This is demanded, in any case, by the earth’s state of ecological health; above all it is required by the cultural and moral crisis of man, the symptoms of which have been evident for some time all over the world” (n. 32).
These words can be a significant source of inspiration for this Conference, which seeks to explore the compatibility between economic growth and sustainability as well as developing the so-called “win-win opportunities” that would help achieve these two important goals for the benefit of present and future generations.
Many studies, such as that made by the New Climate Economy Report, show various possibilities for enhancing the complementarities between these two objectives.
The Conference is timely, given that two important preparatory processes of the United Nations system are underway: the UN Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda, and the UNFCCC COP-21 in Paris in December, to adopt a new agreement on facing the adverse effects of climate change. Both of them represent the serious ethical and moral responsibility that each of us has towards the whole human family, especially the poor and future generations.
In his Message to COP-20 in Lima, Pope Francis underlined clearly the “gravity of neglect and inaction. The time to find global solutions is running out. We can find appropriate solutions only if we act together and in agreement. There is therefore a clear, definitive and urgent ethical imperative to act. An effective fight against global warming will be possible only through a responsible collective action, which overcomes particular interests and behaviors and develops unfettered by political and economic pressures. A collective response which is also capable of overcoming mistrust and of fostering a culture of solidarity, of encounter and of dialogue; capable of demonstrating responsibility to protect the planet and the human family.”
When the future of the planet is at stake, there are no political frontiers, barriers or walls behind which we can hide to protect ourselves from the effects of environmental and social degradation. There is no room for the globalization of indifference, the economy of exclusion or the throwaway culture so often denounced by Pope Francis (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 52, 53, 59).
Of course, the path is not easy, since this ethical and moral responsibility calls into question the resetting of the development model, requiring a major political and economic commitment. However, as I said to the UN Climate Summit on September 23, 2014, “the technological and operational bases needed to facilitate this mutual responsibility are already available or within our reach. We have the capacity to start and strengthen a true and beneficial process which will irrigate, as it were, through adaptation and mitigation activities, the field of economic and technological innovation where it is possible to cultivate two interconnected objectives: combating poverty and easing the effects of climate change.”
It is my earnest hope, and I am sure that it is possible, that this Conference can make a strong contribution in this direction, taking into account that “the dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies” (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, n. 203).
With sentiments of esteem and respect, may I convey to you the prayerful best wishes of His Holiness Pope Francis and his hope that the discussions and reflections of this Conference may contribute to further and deepen reflection on the meaning of the economy and its goals, as well as to finding ways to guarantee access to a truly integral human development for all, especially the poor and the future generations.