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“Any harm done to the environment is harm to humanity”: Pope Francis at UN in NYC

Date
25 September 2015
“Any harm done to the environment is harm to humanity”: Pope Francis at UN in NYC

NEW YORK: Today Pope Francis addressed the largest gathering of world leaders to ever converge in the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, where he put climate action at the heart of his call for social justice, sustainable development and global peace. The address took place during a week of climate announcements from business, sub-national government and civil society at Climate Week NYC, which is organized by The Climate Group.

Speaking before the pope’s address at the UN General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Pope Francis’ visit to the US will inspire the global community to act on climate to “ensure a life of dignity for all”. He said: “Like the United Nations, you are driven by passion to help others.” Pointing to the pope’s recent speeches on economic development and the environment, he said: “Your visit coincides with the Agenda to Adopt the UN Sustainable Development Goals, but that is no coincidence. […] Climate change is a principal challenge facing the world. This message is critical as we head toward Paris in December.”

In his address which was watched live around the world, Pope Francis called to improve the imbalance of power to tackle climate change, due its impact on the world’s most vulnerable. “We human beings are part of the environment and believe in communion with it. And the environment itself has ethical limits which humans must actively acknowledge and respect.” He continued “Any harm done to the environment is harm to humanity.”

“Every living creature has an intrinsic value its existence, its life, its beauty and its dependence with other creatures. We Christians together with the other monotheistic religions, believe the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow men and for the glory of the Creator; but man is not authorized to abuse it, must less he is authorized to destroy it.

“In all religions the environment is fundamental good. Misuse and destruction of the environment are also accommodated by a relentless process of exclusion. A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material and prosperity leads to other misuse of available natural resources and the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged.”

Pope Francis stressed the importance of the UN SDGs and the upcoming global climate talks in Paris, COP21. “Adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the world summit which opens today is an important sign of hope. I am confident that the Paris conference on climate change will secure fundamental and effective agreements. Solemn commitments however, are not enough even though they are a necessary step toward solutions.

“Concrete steps and immediate measures for preserving and improving the natural environment and thus putting an end as quickly as possible to the phenomenon of social and economic exclusion. The ecological crisis and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity, can threaten the very existence of the human species.”

The pope concluded by affirming that human development “must continue to rise on the foundation of respect for the sacredness of every human life.”

The Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis, Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate commented: "People applaud this pope as being more personable or else more sociable; others dismiss him as being too controversial or even as too political. What people fail to understand is that is solely and exclusively scriptural and evangelical.

"Pope Francis “gets” it. He can make the connections that so many people either deliberately omit or unwittingly overlook. He is able to connect the dots between faith and life, between economy and ecology, and especially between poverty and pollution. That’s why what he says matters; and that’s why what he says hurts!"

Writing in The Hill today, Deborah Fikes, World Evangelical Alliance’s spokesperson to the United Nations and member of the International Leadership Council of The Climate Group said: "By writing this encyclical and talking about climate change in the United States, Pope Francis is setting a new norm. He is challenging people of faith to do more. No matter our political or religious leaning though, we all need to do more. We have the most critical issue in human history to address. Together."

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#CWNYC 2015

Climate Week NYC is a key event in the international calendar that brings together leading governments, investors, businesses, innovators and opinion formers. The Climate Group launched Climate Week NYC in 2009, and has acted as the secretariat since its inception.

Host to more than 100 affiliate events from September 21-28, Climate Week NYC 2015 is the collaborative space for climate events in support of the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Climate Week NYC 2015 is supported by BT Group, Siemens, Procter & Gamble, Nike, SkyPower, SolarCity, CBRE Group, and Bank of the West - BNP Paribas; and the We Mean Business coalition members: BSR, The B Team, CDP, Ceres, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and WBCSD.

ClimateWeekNYC.org | @ClimateWeekNYC | #CWNYC

By Clare Saxon Ghauri

Image by Alfredo Borba


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