Pope Francis released Laudate Deum on 4th October 2023 on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi the patron saint of Ecology and the close of the Season of Creation. It was a joyful moment to receive the Apostolic Exhortation, which is the second part of Laudato Si’. In it, Pope Francis is expressing His urgent concern over the state of the planet and so the need to fully commit to tackling the climate crisis that we are facing. He challenges world leaders, particularly those who will participate in COP28 in the United Arab Emirates in November 2023.
Here is the structure of the Apostolic Exhortation:
Introduction (No. 1-4): Pope Francis calls our attention that it is 8years since the release of Encyclical Laudato Si’ and although there are actions being taken, the responses are far from adequate to address the climate crisis and unfortunately, the planet is reaching the breaking point.
1. The Global Climate Crisis (No. 5-19): Clearly the climate crisis challenges are biting more with each passing day as seen with flooding, drought, heat waves etc. At the same time, the poor are the most vulnerable yet they are not the most responsible for the use of fossil fuels. Human activity is also partly to blame for the crisis especially because of greenhouse gas emissions causing havoc to the climate and so to the planet – the planet is heating at unprecedented levels and unless something is done urgently, it will be difficult to maintain global warming at 1.5 degrees Celicius (definitely below 2 degrees).
2. A Growing Technocratic Paradigm (No. 20-33): There is a growing technological paradigm that seems to promote that human beings are limitless and the notion that technological developments offer limitless resources. However, the reality is the resources for technological instruments like Lithium and Silicone are not limited. Over preying on the natural resources is dangerous. The drive for maximum profits/economic gain is misguided.
3. The Weakness of International Politics (No. 34-43): Preference should be given to multilateralism where world organizations are equipped with the power to provide for the global common good, the elimination of hunger and poverty, and the defense of fundamental human rights. There is need to reconfigure the world order and multilateral agreements.
4. Climate Conference: Progress and Failures (No. 44-52): There have been many climate conferences – it is good to note the progress and failures. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a treaty that was made in the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Conference. The parties to this treaty are called the Conference of the Parties (COP) who meet annually. However, only some of their conferences have been effective. For instance, COP21 in Paris, France (2015) set the objective to keep the temperature increase within 2 degrees Celcius, and if possible at 1.5 degree but there is no mechanism to ensure its implementation and to sanction for nonfulfillment.
5. What to expect from COP28 in Dubai? (No. 53-60): The host country for COP28 is UAE; a country known for production of fossil fuels. If human beings can overcome their petty interests, this COP could
be a change of direction to show that past efforts were worthwhile. Progress has been made towards an increase in clean energy, but it has not been decisive enough, more ought to be done. COP28 must lead to energy transition targets that are efficient, obligatory and readily monitored.
6. Spiritual Motivations (No. 61-73): An authentic faith in God shed light on our relationship to others and with creation. Human persons must respect the laws of nature and the delicate equilibrium that exists among all the creatures. The universe shows the richness and the radiance of God. Hence, we should not remain indifferent when creatures disappear
By Pauline and Adina
Mary Ward JPIC Office