UN chief: Climate fight a ‘moral imperative’

UN chief: Climate fight a ‘moral imperative’
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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Vatican officials Tuesday that he looks forward to Pope Francis declaring the fight against climate change a “moral imperative.”

The pope's actions would show that "the world's religions can provide valuable leadership" on the issue, Ban told the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican, which is hosting a meeting on climate change.

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“I very much look forward to the upcoming encyclical by Pope Francis,” Ban said, according to his prepared remarks.

“It will convey to the world that protecting our environment is an urgent moral imperative and a sacred duty for all people of faith and people of conscience,” he added.

Francis is timing his encyclical with the intent of influencing the United Nations’ negotiations toward a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help poor countries adapt to climate change.

UN negotiators will meet in December in Paris with the hope of signing a final pact.

“We need a global climate agreement that is universal, fair and ambitious,” Ban said. “Industrialized countries must take the first steps forward. Reasons of equity and historical responsibility require no less.”

Ban told the Vatican officials that their influence is “enormous” and can go a long way toward getting the world involved in helping the planet.

Also at the meeting, Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, called for the Catholic Church to embrace “sustainable development” as a way to properly care for the Earth and not exploit it.