Pope Francis has warned that it would be “catastrophic” for world leaders to let special interest groups get in the way of a global agreement to curb fossil fuel emissions on the eve of make-or-break climate change talks in Paris.
Francis issued the pointed warning in a speech to the U.N.’s regional office here on Thursday after celebrating his first public Mass on the continent: A joyous, rain-soaked ceremony before 300,000 faithful that saw the Argentine pope being serenaded by ululating Swahili singers, swaying nuns, Maasai tribesmen and dancing children dressed in the colors of Kenya’s flag.
rancis has made ecological concerns a hallmark of his nearly 3-year-old papacy, issuing a landmark encyclical earlier this year that paired the need to care for the environment with the need to care for humanity’s most vulnerable.
Francis argues the two are interconnected since the poor often suffer the most from the effects of global warming, and are largely excluded from today’s fossil-fuel based global economy that is heating up the planet.
On Thursday last week, Francis repeated that message but took particular aim at those who reject the science behind global warming. In the United States, that accounts for several Republican presidential candidates and lawmakers, who have opposed steps President Barack Obama has taken on his own to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“It would be sad, and dare I say even catastrophic, were special interests to prevail over the common good and lead to manipulating information in order to protect their own plans and interests,” Francis said.
Francis’ environmental entreaty followed a call for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation to guard against “barbarous” Islamist extremist attacks that have struck the country.