Pope Francis to urge a billion Catholics to act on climate

Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, is due to call over a billion Catholics to act on climate. Ahead of the Paris Climate talks later this year, this is a big move that may even more tilt the balance on action.

Catholics are found on all continents, but to varying degree. If they represent nearly half of the population of the Americas, they are a mere tenth of the Asian population. The top five nations with the most Catholics are to date, Brazil (127 million), Mexico (97), the Philippines (80), the United States (76), and Italy (50). See Wikipedia for more details.

The fact that the Pope himself may call to act so many people in so many countries to act on global warming is a sign that times are changing. Lately, Pope Francis had urged people to stop unbridled consumerism. As Time reports, ” he criticized the “idolatry of money” and denounced the unfettered free market as the “new tyranny.”

But not only does the Pope calls Catholics to act, he is also counting on other faiths to act as well. Climate Progress noted :

In September, the Pope will take his message to the U.N. General Assembly in a New York address next year, according to John Vidal of the Guardian, who cited Vatican insiders. He will reportedly personally lobby political and faith leaders there, with the goal of pushing them to commit to real action ahead of the Paris meetings in December of next year.

 While it isn’t certain what exactly he will tell these leaders, it will likely be similar to what he has been telling Catholics everywhere since the beginning of his papacy. Earlier this year, Francis told a massive crowd in Rome, “if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us!” He has called the destruction of the rainforest a “sin,” and under his leadership, the Church held a five-day summit with scientists, economists, philosophers, astronomers, and other experts to explore ways the Catholic church could address climate and sustainability.

Renew Economy, from Australia, wrote an interesting piece on how this could push even more divestment from fossil fuels. Here are some extracts of their article :

But how much further could Pope Francis go? (…) This could include divestment. No one knows how much the Catholic Church has in its funds. It is likely to be hundreds of billions. The Uniting Church in Australia has voted to divest from fossil fuels. In July, the World Council of Churches, an umbrella group representing over half a billion Christians, announced its plans to fully divest from fossil fuels.

(…) The Catholic Church is not just the largest private employer in Australia (and other countries), with some 180,000 employees, it is also one of the biggest energy consumers – with a combined annual bill that runs into the billions of dollars from schools, aged care centres, churches, parish centres and hospitals.

A series of initiatives that encouraged energy efficiency, the installation of solar systems – schools would be perfect for this because usage matches solar output – and also battery storage would have a profound impact on the incumbent energy system, hastening the inevitable transition to decentralised energy grid.

(…) In the US, the combined energy consumption of Catholic organisations – schools, hospitals, aged care, churches, seminaries and the like, would run into the tens of billions. In Europe, the same again.

If you are willing to see this happen, you can go to 350.org : Divest Vatican.

To conclude, good on His Holliness for such a good action. His predecessor had installed thousands of solar panels on the Vatican. This goes even further.

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