Yesterday saw the release of Pope Francis’ Papal Encyclical, in which the leader of the Catholic Church deplored climate change as one of the principal challenges facing humanity and called for a ‘new dialogue’ about shaping the future of our planet.

The encyclical’s findings acknowledge the “very solid scientific consensus” showing significant warming of the planet’s climate system and that such warming is “mainly a result of human activity.”

In addition, the Papal declaration describes climate change as a critical moral issue requiring respectful dialogue with all parts of society.

The encyclical has been welcomed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said that he and Pope Francis agree that climate change is a moral issue that requires collective urgent actions.

“It is an issue of social justice, human rights and fundamental ethics,” continued the UN chief, urging the international community to “do far more to help the poorest and most vulnerable members of society, who are suffering most from climate impacts yet had least to do with causing the problem.”

Mr. Ban deeply thanked Pope Francis for taking such a “strong stand” on the need for urgent global action. His moral voice is part of a growing chorus of people from all faiths and all sectors of society speaking out for climate action.

The United Nations Foundation also acknowledged the encyclical, stating: "Pope Francis has shown great leadership with his encyclical on the environment and climate change. The encyclical comes at a critical time and serves as a ‘reset button’ in the global dialogue on how we address climate change. The Pope’s voice engages new participants around the globe and changes the tenor of the discussion.

“Many reasons inspire us to protect our climate and environment – to safeguard our health and our economy, among others – but the most important motivation must be a moral one. Human activities are disrupting the Earth’s delicate balance – polluting our air and water, cutting down our forests, and leading many species to extinction. Climate change, caused primarily by the use of fossil fuels for energy, threatens the viability of our human existence on Earth. Carbon pollution is transforming the very chemical makeup of our atmosphere and oceans, with devastating consequences – extreme weather, droughts, floods, and rising seas. A warming planet will hurt us all, but the world’s poorest will suffer first and most.

“With his encyclical Pope Francis is calling on us to pursue a more sustainable path – for the sake of the least among us and for generations to come. As his namesake Saint Francis said: “Remember that when you leave this Earth you can take nothing of what you have received, but only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage.” May we apply what each of us has been given to protect the Earth we all share."

UN Foundation Board Member Kofi Annan commented, “This is real leadership. Let’s hope others follow his lead.”

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