Sustainability Climate Change

‘Creation is groaning’: Pope Francis makes emotional appeal for the environment

Story at a glance

  • The pontiff said the coronavirus pandemic has shown how the Earth can recover if we allow it to rest.
  • He urged people to seize the opportunity afforded by the pandemic to reflect on their habits of energy use, transportation and consumption.
  • The pope said climate restoration is of utmost importance amid the climate crisis, urging nations to do everything they can to follow the requirements of the Paris Agreement as the world is “running out of time.”

Pope Francis says the coronavirus pandemic has brought the world to a crossroads and urged societies to come together to restore the land and find more sustainable ways of living to give the “Earth the rest it requires.”

“The disintegration of biodiversity, spiralling [sic] climate disasters, and unjust impact of the current pandemic on the poor and vulnerable: all these are a wakeup call in the face of our rampant greed and consumption,” Francis said in a written message Tuesday marking the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. “In some ways, the current pandemic has led us to rediscover simpler and sustainable lifestyles.”


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“Already we can see how the earth can recover if we allow it to rest: the air becomes cleaner, the waters clearer, and animals have returned to many places from where they had previously disappeared,” he said. 

The pontiff said the constant demand for growth and production are exhausting the natural world, proclaiming that “Creation is groaning!” He urged people to seize the opportunity of the pandemic to reflect on their habits of energy use, transportation and consumption. 

Francis emphasized the importance of global cooperation and called for the elimination of debt for vulnerable countries, saying the move would be justified as wealthier nations have exploited poorer nations’ natural resources. 

He said climate restoration is of utmost importance amid the climate crisis, urging nations to do everything they can to follow the requirements of the Paris Agreement as the world is “running out of time.” He also appealed for nations to become more ambitious in cutting emissions before the November Climate Summit in the United Kingdom. 

Lockdowns around the world to slow the spread of the coronavirus resulted in dramatic drops in greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution. But as nations have largely moved to reopen, the decline in pollution is likely to be quickly reversed unless immediate action is taken.