Pope Francis signed the message urging care for creation on July 16, one day after new temperature records were set in Spain and Portugal. There were 1,063 heat-related deaths in Portugal between July 7 and July 18, according to the country’s director-general of health.
Since then, the heat wave has spread to France and the U.K., which broke its national record for the highest temperature ever recorded on July 19.
In his message, Pope Francis explained that he authorized the Holy See on behalf of the Vatican City State to accede to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement “in the hope that the humanity of the 21st century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities.”
He said that achieving the demanding goals of the Paris agreement of limiting temperature increase to 1.5°C and reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero requires cooperation between all nations.
“This means ‘converting’ models of consumption and production, as well as lifestyles, in a way more respectful of creation and the integral human development of all peoples, present and future, a development grounded in responsibility, prudence/precaution, solidarity, concern for the poor and for future generations,” the pope added.
The pope called for economically richer countries, “who have polluted most in the last two centuries,” to provide financial and technical support for economically poorer nations that are “already experiencing the most of the burden of climate change.”
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