Pope FrancisPope Francis Pope calls on young people to protect environment The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Gosar censured as GOP drama heightens Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Native solar startups see business as activism MORE on Wednesday praised the main piece of President Obama’s climate change agenda, his limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
Francis mentioned the effort in a White House speech kicking off his visit to Washington, D.C., Wednesday.
“Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution,” the leader of the Catholic Church said in his speech.
“Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to our future generations.”
Francis’s remarks came despite predictions from Catholic leaders, experts and others that the pope would avoid wading into political fights during his first visit to the nation.
The power plant rule has been a political lightning rod, with the two parties, governors and industry groups clashing bitterly over it.
Francis devoted more of his speech at the White House to climate change than to any other topics, reflecting the priority he has put on the matter.
He wrote a major encyclical on climate change earlier this year, encouraging all people of faith to reduce greenhouse gases and take other measures to protect the environment and the poor from the effects of global warming.
Obama’s Clean Power Plan is by far his most controversial environmental regulation. Made final in August, it seeks to cut the power sector’s output of carbon dioxide 32 percent by 2030.
Francis’s ultimate goal with the encyclical, with his mention of climate in the speech and with his general focus on the issue, is to encourage world leaders to come to a strong international pact on climate this December in Paris.
That is also one of Obama's top priorities.
“When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history,” the pontiff said. “We still have time to make the change needed to bring about a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.”
He borrowed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to help make his case.
“To use a phrase of the Rev. Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on our promissory note, and now is the time to honor it,” he said.
Obama also referred climate change in his speech welcoming Francis.
“You remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet — God’s magnificent gift to us,” he said. “We support your call to all world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable to a changing climate and to come together to preserve our precious world for future generations.”