COP27: Holy See calls for action from world leaders

8 November 2022

Cardinal Parolin delivered the message to leaders in Sharm El-Sheikh on behalf of Pope Francis (Image: UNFCCC)

Cardinal Parolin delivered the message to leaders in Sharm El-Sheikh on behalf of Pope Francis (Image: UNFCCC)

The Holy See has reminded world leaders at COP27 that "concrete decisions" to tackle the climate crisis "can no longer be postponed".

The message, delivered by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, declared that the presidents and prime ministers gathered at the summit in Sharm El-Sheikh have a "moral duty to act concretely in order to prevent and respond to the always more frequent and severe humanitarian impacts caused by climate change."

The Cardinal, who delivered the message on behalf of Pope Francis, spoke about the importance of education on ways to address the climate crisis and the need to strengthen "the covenant between human beings and the environment". 

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Cardinal Parolin discussed the message Pope Francis sent to world leaders at COP26 in Glasgow, in which the Holy Father declared that the effects of Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis combined were comparable to "those resulting from a global conflict". 

The Vatican Secretary of State warned that leaders must not allow conflicts and tensions between different countries to overshadow efforts in Egypt, warning that "political will should be guided by the awareness that either we win together or we lose together".

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Young people demand action at COP27

Calls from young people for climate action were a theme in the Holy See message, with Cardinal Parolin urging governments to act "especially on behalf of our youth who are looking to us to care for present and future generations".

The Cardinal said:

"This is a time for international and intergenerational solidarity. We need to be responsible, courageous and forward-looking, not just for ourselves but for our children."

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The full address from Cardinal Parolin can be read below.

Message from His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin OMRI, Holy See Secretary of State, to the COP27 leaders' summit

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of Pope Francis, I extend a cordial greeting to all of you and wish to assure you of his closeness, support and encouragement as you work diligently to oversee a fruitful outcome of this conference.

A few days ago, in Bahrain, he emphasised the hope that COP27 will be a step forward for concrete and far-sighted choices, undertaken with a younger generation in mind before it is too late and their future is compromised.

This is the first UNFCCC session to which the Holy See participates as a State Party to both the Convention and the Paris Agreement. This important step is consistent with Pope Francis’s announcement in 2020 that the Holy See would commit to the goal of net zero emissions, responding at two levels: first, the Vatican City State committed to reducing net emissions to zero before 2050 through intensifying its efforts to improve its environmental management, efforts that have already been in place for a number of years; and second, the Holy See is dedicated to promoting education in integral ecology. Indeed, political, technical and operational measures are not enough; they must be combined with an educational approach that promotes new lifestyles while fostering a new pattern of development and sustainability based on care, fraternity and cooperation as humankind, and on the strengthening of the covenant between human beings and the environment.

Mr President, the social-ecological crisis that we are living is a propitious moment for individual and collective conversion and for concrete decisions that can no longer be postponed. The human face of the climate emergency challenges us deeply. We have a moral duty to act concretely in order to prevent and respond to the always more frequent and severe humanitarian impacts caused by climate change. The growing phenomenon of migrants being displaced by it is a concerning sign. Even when they lack access to international protections, States cannot leave without tangible solutions, including in areas about the adaptation, mitigation and resilience. Where this is not possible, it is important to recognise mitigation as a form of adaptation and to increase the availability and flexibility of a pathway for regular migration.

Worryingly, we must admit that global events like Covid-19 and the increasing number of conflicts all over the world with their serious social and economic consequences risk undermining global security, exacerbating food insecurity, jeopardising multilateralism and even overshadowing our efforts here in Sharm El-Sheikh. We cannot allow for this to happen. Climate change will not wait for us. Our world is now far too interdependent and cannot permit itself to be structured into unsustainable isolated blocs of countries. This is a time for international and intergenerational solidarity. We need to be responsible, courageous and forward-looking, not just for ourselves but for our children.

Last year, at COP26 in Glasgow, Pope Francis sent a message in which he stressed that the wounds inflicted on our human family by the Covid-19 pandemic and the phenomenon of climate change are comparable to those resulting from a global conflict. Now, this message takes on even more significance. Our political will should be guided by the awareness that either we win together or we lose together. We must admit that the road to achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement is complex and that we have less and less time available to correct course. COP27 provides us with a further opportunity which cannot be wasted. It is an opportunity and a challenge to seriously tackle the four pillars of the Paris Agreement: mitigation; adaptation; finance; and loss and damage. These four pillars are interconnected and are a marker of fairness, justice and equity.

We should also not neglect the non-economic side of loss and damage, like loss of heritage and cultures. Here, we have a lot to learn from indigenous peoples.

By acceding to the Convention and the Paris Agreement, the Holy See is even more committed to moving forward on this journey together for the common good of humanity and especially on behalf of our youth who are looking to us to care for present and future generations.

Thank you.

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