In his speech at the COP-21 climate summit in Paris, the Vatican’s Secretary of State urged global leaders to orient their discussion toward a clear ethical objective, one that puts the human person, the poor in particular, at the center. Outlining three key pillars for a “global and transformative agreement” on how to address the problem of climate change, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Nov. 30 that the first consists of “the adoption of a clear ethical orientation, which inspires the motives and goals of the agreement to be implemented.” It’s both the most vulnerable and future generations who are most impacted by climate change, he said, noting that these people often have no blame themselves. Faced with growing concern surrounding the environment, the cardinal stressed that we can’t let ourselves become isolated by social or political barriers. “We are one human family and that there is no room for the so-called globalization of indifference,” he said, adding that the urgency of the situation calls for “the widest possible collaboration” in order to formulate a common, concrete plan. It’s important, he said, “that this agreement is centered on the recognition both of the ethical imperative to act in a context of global solidarity, and of the common but differing responsibility of each person, according to their ability and condition.” Cardinal Parolin spoke at the opening of the Conference of Parties, an annual gathering aimed at tackling issues related to climate change on a global, political level. Taking place in Paris Nov. 30-Dec. 11, the summit is hosting leaders from 150 nations, in addition to 40,000 delegates from 195 countries, CNN reports. The goal of the discussion is to reach an agreement on legally binding reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. The reductions are intended to hold global average temperatures under a two degrees Celsius increase over preindustrial global temperatures, according to CNN. In his remarks, Cardinal Parolin recalled Pope Francis’ recent comments at the United Nations office in Nairobi, Kenya, in which the pontiff said that working together is necessary to conquer problems, whether they involve politics, health, or development. The Pope again addressed the climate issue on his Nov. 30 flight back to Rome, telling journalists during an in-flight press conference that society is “on the verge of suicide, to use a strong word.” “I’m sure that nearly the entirety of all of those in Paris for the COP-21 have this awareness and want to do something,” he said, adding that he hopes and prays the conference will be the beginning of a solution. Cardinal Parolin echoed the Pope’s words in Nairobi, highlighting three objectives for the Paris summit that Pope Francis himself outlined at the U.N. headquarters there: “to alleviate the impacts of climate change, to fight poverty and to make the dignity of the human person flourish.” In addition to moving forward with a clear ethical orientation, the agreement sought must also look not only at how it will be implemented, but must above all “transmit clear signals which guide the conduct of all relevant parties,” the cardinal explained. These “signals,” he said, must be communicated not only through governments, but all levels of society, including local authorities, civil society and the business and scientific communities. Achieving a low-carbon economy aimed at an integral human development depends on how leaders collaborate in adopting “that human genius which is able to make human dignity flourish,” Parolin said. He mentioned the promotion of renewable energies, dematerialization, the proper management of forests, sustainable food security and the fight against food waste as possible means, in addition to the proper use of technologies and the need to combat “ineffective and at times unfair subsidies.” A third pillar the cardinal outlined was a long-term vision into the future, he said, adding that the COP-21 conference isn’t just a point of arrival or departure, but rather “a crucial phase of the course that certainly doesn't end with 2015.” The agreement they reach, he said, ought to include a review of the commitments made as well as a series of “follow-ups” that are transparent, effective and dynamic. A change in lifestyle is also necessary, particularly when it comes to sustainable models of production and consumption, Cardinal Parolin said, adding that “the current way of living, with the culture of waste, is unsustainable.” He stressed the importance of proper education and formation in creating sustainable lifestyles. Technical solutions, he said, are not enough if education is lacking. The cardinal closed his address by voicing his hope that the three pillars he outlined would help in achieving the objectives expressed by Pope Francis: “to alleviate the impacts of climate change, to fight poverty and to allow the dignity of the human being to flourish.”
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