Pope Francis Concerned about Global Warming
Fr. Seán McDonagh, SS
The fact that Laudato Si’ appeared six months before the crucial COP 21 meeting in Paris was very helpful. Memories of the abortive Copenhagen Conference in 2009 haunted those preparing for the Paris COP.
Another failure would have done enormous damage to the United Nations efforts to get a global treaty in place. According to Prof John Sweeney, NUI Maynooth, Ireland, the detailed choreography involving the United Nations, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (JPIC) the Vatican, and the tireless efforts of the French diplomatic system paid off and, despite some last-minute hitches, the first legally binding global agreement on climate change – requiring action by both developing and developed countries – was adopted and will enter in to force in 2020.
It is important to remember that there was no mention of climate change in the Caritas in Veritate Social encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI which appeared six months before the Copenhagen Conference in 2009.. The Vatican threw all its diplomatic energy in order to get a positive outcome at Paris 2015.
Pope Francis congratulated the world leaders present at the COP-23 event and invited them to maintain a high level of cooperation. He renewed his urgent call for renewed dialogue on how we are building the future of the planet. “We need an exchange that unites us all,” he said, “because the environmental challenges we are experiencing, and its human roots affects us all.” The Pope warned participants not to fall into four perverse attitudes regarding the future of the planet: “denial, indifference, resignation and trust in inadequate solutions.” Finally, Pope Francis hoped that the COP-23 would be “inspired by the same collaborative and prophetic spirit manifested during the COP-21”, the event at which the historic Paris agreement was signed.
Some island leaders from the Pacific Ocean area took time out from the COP 23 to pay a visit to Pope Francis in the Vatican. The president of the tiny island of Nauru, Baron Waqa told the pope “we are on the frontline of climate change. The devastating impact of cyclones has caused enormous losses for our fragile economies and matters have not ended there.” Highlighting the moral authority of Pope Francis on ecological issues, the Pacific leaders noted that the significance of the encyclical, Laudao Si’ which they said had re-dynamised the discussion on the recognition above all, of the vulnerable, in the face of climate change.
In October 2017, Pope Francis implicitly criticized the United States for pulling out of the Paris agreement on climate change. The United States is the only country out of 195 signatories to have withdrawn from the accord, which aims to cut emissions, blamed for the rise in global temperatures. U.S. President, Donald Trump announced the decision in June shortly after visiting the pope, a strong supporter of the Paris deal. At the time a Vatican official said the move was a slap in the face for the pope and the Vatican.
In this address to the Diplomatic Corps on January 8th 2018, Pope Francis called on humans to care for the earth. He is particularly concerned with the devastating impact of climate changes. According to him “there is a need to take up, in a united effort, the responsibility of leaving to coming generations a more beautiful and liveable world, and to work, in the light of the commitments agreed upon in Paris in 2015. The spirit that must guide individuals and nations in this effort can be compared to that of the builders of the medieval cathedrals that dot the landscape of Europe, who knew that they would not see the completion of their work. Yet they worked diligently, in the knowledge that they were part of a project that would be left to their children to enjoy.
Recent studies have shown us another aspect of climate change. Climate change could choke entire marine ecosystems by cutting oxygen levels in the ocean. 
Oxygen-poor waters have always existed in the sea, but in the last 50 years these “oxygen minimum zone” have grown because of climate change. Warm sea water can dissolves less oxygen than cold water. A fall of a few degrees is enough to put enormous stress on some marine ecosystems.
 Dr. John Sweeney, “Walking the Road from Paris,” in Laudato Si’: An Irish Response, 2017, pages 137 and 138.,
 Pope Francis sends letter to COP23 climate conference in Bonn, Vatican Radio, http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/11/16/pope_francis_sends_letter_to_cop23_climate_conference_in_bon/1349337
 “Threatened islands appeal to Pope,” Sunday Examiner, November 26th 2017, page 4.
 Philip Pullella,, “Pope implicitly criticizes U.S. for leaving Paris climate accord,” October 15th 2017. https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/10/16/pope-implicitly-criticizes-us-for-leaving-paris-climate-accord/23244500/
 Andre Tornielli, “defending the right to life, freedom and physical integrity of every human person,” Pope Francis speaks to the Diplomatic Corps on January 8th 2018, Vatican Cty.
 Chris Baraniuk, “Our oceans are set to suffocate,”NewScientist, 11 November 2017, page 8.