The eagerly awaited encyclical by Pope Francis will be released on Thursday, a few days after the G7 called for decisive action on climate change and a few months ahead of an ambitious effort in Paris to save the earth from over-heating. It is expected to ask rich nations to fulfil their moral responsibilities towards poorer nations.
This moral aspect is worrying as it is driven by guilt, not rights. What if poor nations want to claim their rights in a world that is economically and politically stacked against them?
An encyclical is the most authoritative document a Pope can write and in more ways than one, it is a statement of fundamental principles. This one will be called "Laudato Si” (Be Praised), On the Care of our Common Home and will be devoted entirely to saving the environment from further damage. It will most certainly stir up a hornet’s nest with everyone from doubters of science to doubters of religion as well as political leaders questioning the right of the Catholic Church to lean in on the contentious debate of climate change.
A meeting in Bonn (Germany) last week did not yield any concrete results on who must do what, when and above all at what cost to save the planet. Countries are seeking an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The convening body, the United Nations (UN) is seeking a document in Paris (December 2015) where countries will make legally binding commitments on climate change.
The jury on this is slowly and surely emerging. A European diplomat told The News Minute (TNM) the pressure will be on India, as both China and the United States have made bilateral deals. The three countries are the world’s worst polluters. Brazil is preoccupied with internal issues as is South Africa so there is no question of a BRICS position Paris. What is India’s game-plan is a question everyone is asking.
The encyclical is widely expected to extoll the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to “embrace” climate change. At a meeting in May this year in Rome attended by an eclectic group of thinkers including the UN’s top official Ban-Ki moon, Cardinal Peter Turkson said that in “our collective recklessness” we are traversing some of the planet’s most fundamental natural boundaries. “And the lesson from the Garden of Eden still rings true today: pride, hubris, self-centredness are always perilous, indeed destructive. The very technology that has brought great reward is now poised to bring great ruin,” he added in what many view as a worrying comment.
Read our earlier piece here.