Vatican official calls protection of environment a moral imperative

Speaking before the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly, meeting on September 25 in New York to deliberate climate change, Monsignor Pietro Parolin, under-secretary for Relations with States, said, "Climate change is a serious concern and an inescapable responsibility. My delegation wishes to stress the underlying moral imperative that everyone, without exception, has a grave responsibility to protect the environment.

"The best scientific assessments available have established a link between human activity and climate change, however, the results of these scientific assessments, and the remaining uncertainties, should neither be exaggerated nor minimized in the name of politics, ideologies or self- interest. Rather they now need to be studied closely in order to give a sound basis for raising awareness and making effective policy decisions.

"In recent times," Parolin said, "it has been unsettling to note how some commentators have said that we should actually exploit our world to the full, with little or no heed to the consequences, using a world view supposedly based on faith." This "is a fundamentally reckless approach." However "there are those who hold up the earth as the only good, and would characterize humanity as an irredeemable threat to the earth, whose population and activity need to be controlled by various drastic means." They "would place human beings and their needs at the service of an inhuman ecology."

"Since no country alone can solve the problems related to our common environment, we need to overcome self-interest through collective action. On the part of the international community, this presupposes the adoption of a coordinated, effective and prompt international political strategy" to "identify ways ... to enhance sustainable development and foster a healthy environment," while bearing in mind "that poor nations and sectors of society are particularly vulnerable to the adverse consequences of climate change, due to lesser resources and capacity to mitigate their effects and adapt to altered surroundings."

"The pace of achieving and codifying a new international consensus on climate change is not always matched by an equally expeditious and effective pace of implementation of such agreements. States are free to adopt international conventions and treaties, but unless our words are matched with effective action and accountability, we would do little to avert a bleak future and may find ourselves gathering again not too long from now to lament another collective failure."

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