Pope Francis has written another good and timely encyclical calling the catholic faithful and all people of good moral conscience to action on climate change. Since it’s a Sunday we thought we’d share it – you can read it here and I endorse this summary of it by David Wallace Wells.
And while it’s always good news when a world leader endorses action on climate change, what sets this message apart is it’s strongly worded demand to end fossil fuels and abandon false solutions. In that sense this could be a letter directly from Pope Francis to President Joe Biden, who is himself famously Catholic, or his Climate Envoy John Kerry who was raised as a Catholic altar boy.
As we keep saying (now with Papal endorsement)” President Biden and the Inflation Reduction Act have both put far too much emphasis on technologies like carbon capture and, this week, Hydrogen fuels. What we need is the moral courage and political leadership to end fossil fuels fast, fair, and forever. If you want to help President Biden get the message, sign here.
The Pope’s message has found an audience in the climate faithful. Bill McKibben, UN Secretary General António Guterres, and a host of other leaders have endorsed it’s clear call to action. Francis wrote “the world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point.” The solution, he points out, is the “abandonment of fossil fuels.” It’s also worth noting in this weekend of expanding violence in the Israel, Gaza, and the Middle East that the same leaders — like Guterres and Francis — calling for peace are calling for an unequivocal end to fossil fuels. No war, no warming, indeed.
But the real question is whether leaders like Biden will hear and heed this call to action.
Francis’ short letter makes it clear that courage is not saying what should be done, and leaving it to others to do it — like Biden’s net zero by 2050 pledges. Nor is it in saying that you cannot do more because there are material constraints — in Biden’s case he usually blames the Republican congress, or lawsuits from red state AGs as the reasons why he “must” continue expanding fossil fuel extraction, consumption and export. Courage, according to the head of Biden’s faith, is listening to the voice of angry protesters and responding to their call to act more boldly and move more swiftly toward a peaceful, sustainable future.