In UN Speech, Pope Calls For A Meaningful Commitment In Paris

"Solemn commitments" are necessary steps, but are "not enough," Francis tells the U.N.

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, Pope Francis offered slightly more aggressive comments on the need for an international response to climate change and environmental degradation than he delivered in Washington.

"We human beings are part of the environment," said Francis. "We live in communion with it, since the environment itself entails ethical limits which human activity must acknowledge and respect."

Humans, he said are "shaped by physical, chemical and biological elements, and can only survive and develop if the ecological environment is favorable."

"Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity," he continued, advocating that every creature "has an intrinsic value."

The pope also linked the mistreatment of the poor and the environment, arguing that a "selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged."

"The poorest are those who suffer most from such offenses, for three serious reasons: they are cast off by society, forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment," he said. "They are part of today’s widespread and quietly growing 'culture of waste.'"

Francis also specifically mentioned the upcoming United Nations negotiations on a climate agreement in Paris, expressing confidence that world leaders will reach a "fundamental and effective" agreement. But he called for more than that, saying that "solemn commitments" are necessary steps, but are "not enough." 

He urged world leaders not to "rest content with the bureaucratic exercise of drawing up long lists of good proposals" on climate change and other pressing issues.

The pope's remarks did not address specific aspects of the anticipated climate accord, such as funding to help poor nations deal with climate impacts or the adequacy of emissions targets.

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