Pope Francis this week implored world leaders not to postpone the implementation of global environmental pacts, an appeal that appeared aimed at President-elect Donald Trump’s vows to end the United States’ leading role in combating climate change.
The pope’s remarks came during a gathering of scientists at the Vatican, at which he said there has “never been such a clear need for science” to guide human actions to safeguard the future of the planet.
“It is worth noting that international politics has reacted weakly — albeit with some praiseworthy exceptions — regarding the concrete will to seek the common good and universal goods, and the ease with which well-founded scientific opinion about the state of our planet is disregarded,” the pontiff said, according to a translation provided by the Vatican. He added that the “‘distraction’ or delay” in implementing global agreements on the environment demonstrates how politics have become submissive “to a technology and an economy which seek profit above all else.”
Trump, who is set to become one of the only world leaders to question the notion of global warming, has vowed to “cancel” U.S. participation in the international climate accord signed last year in Paris, in which countries pledged to cut carbon dioxide emissions sharply in coming years. In addition, Trump has called for rolling back pollution regulations on the oil, gas and coal industries and shrinking the role of the Environmental Protection Agency.
This week’s comments echoed an encyclical regarding the environment issued by Francis last year in which he wrote about the “urgent challenge to protect our common home” and argued that “the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor.”
At the Vatican, Francis praised the work of scientists, who he said must remain independent and emerge as leaders in fighting for climate action.
“I would say that it falls to scientists, who work free of political, economic or ideological interests, to develop a cultural model which can face the crisis of climatic change and its social consequences,” he said, “so that the vast potential of productivity will not be reserved for only a few.”
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