“What is needed, in effect, is an agreement on systems of governance for the whole range of so-called ‘global commons,’” the pope wrote in his encyclical.
Francis released his final encyclical titled “Laudato Si” Thursday in which he lays out the theological case for combating global warming, pollution and general ecological collapse. The pope warns that human activity is warming the planet and harming the world’s poor.
To solve this, Francis calls for global governance over the world’s air and oceans because “the climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.”
“Enforceable international agreements are urgently needed, since local authorities are not always capable of effective intervention,” Francis wrote in his encyclical, which is meant to galvanize support for a global climate treaty ahead of the United Nations meeting in Paris later this year.
“Global regulatory norms are needed to impose obligations and prevent unacceptable actions, for example, when powerful companies dump contaminated waste or offshore polluting industries in other countries,” Francis added.
“Let us also mention the system of governance of the oceans. International and regional conventions do exist, but fragmentation and the lack of strict mechanisms of regulation, control and penalization end up undermining these efforts,” the pope wrote.
U.S. Bishops welcomed the pope’s encyclical, saying it’s providing spiritual guidance for how people should think about the environment. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky told reporters the encyclical calls for Catholics “to advocate… for the common good for those who are without a voice or who are very vulnerable.”
“Technology can tell us what we can do, but we do need moral voices to tell us what we ought to do,” said Kurtz, who heads up the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Environmentalists also welcomed the pope’s message, saying it adds weight to arguments that humans should ditch fossil fuels and acquiesce to international governance on environmental issues.
“The Pope’s historic message comes at a critical moment. Momentum is building for significant action during international negotiations in Paris and beyond to transition the world from fossil fuels to a healthy and just clean energy economy,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.
“The pope’s message applies to all of us, regardless of our faith,” echoed Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “He is imploring people of good will everywhere to honor our moral obligation to protect future generations from the dangers of further climate chaos by embracing our ethical duty to act.”
But left-wing groups may be overzealous in their support for Francis’ message. For one thing, Francis rejects notions that population control through more abortion and contraceptives are solutions to lowering carbon dioxide emissions.
Francis also rejects the use of “carbon credits” that can be traded and used as a financial incentive to reduce emissions. Francis says this “may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.”
Conservative Catholics also took issue with environmentalists and politicians using the pope to justify their position of eliminating fossil fuels from the world’s energy mix.
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