Editor’s note: This submission marks the first post by Laura Ieraci, who joins the editorial team at CNEWA as assistant editor of ONE magazine.
Pope Francis intensified his ongoing commitment to promote care for God’s creation, saying that Vatican City is on track to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. He made the announcement during a video message to the U.N. Climate Ambition Summit, held virtually on 12 December.
Care for creation has been a key concern for Pope Francis, who wrote the first encyclical dedicated to the environment, “Laudato Si’ ” in 2015, inspiring numerous theological reflections and pastoral initiatives worldwide.
“The current pandemic and climate change, which have not only environmental, but also ethical, social, economic and political relevance, affect above all the life of the poorest and most fragile,” the pope told the U.N. summit.
CNEWA is witness to the suffering the people it serves endure due to the impact of environmental changes, such as desertification in Northeast Africa, intensifying monsoons and subsequent mudslides in India, and higher temperatures and subsequent energy issues in the Middle East.
The pope told the U.N. summit that Vatican City will increase its current environmental management efforts in the “rational use of natural resources such as water and energy,” better waste management, planting trees and energy efficient travel.
The pope also expressed the church’s commitment to promote “education in integral ecology.”
“Political and technical measures must be united with an educational process that favors a cultural model of development and sustainability, based on fraternity and the alliance between the human being and the environment,” he said.
The pope said he inaugurated the Global Education Pact earlier this year, intended to benefit the 70 million students who attend Catholic schools and universities worldwide with an education that includes mutual understanding and integral ecology.
The pope also encouraged the initiative “The Economy of Francesco,” which organized an online event in November. Young economists and entrepreneurs gathered with international experts to consider ways to build a new economic model that puts the poor, care for creation and the common good “at the center of national and international politics” and sustainable development efforts.
In leading by example, Pope Francis urged other countries to make similar commitments, saying that the adoption of various measures to reduce carbon emissions “cannot be postponed any further.”
“The moment has come for a change of direction,” the pope said. “Let us not rob the new generations of their hope in a better future.”