Pontifical Academy of Sciences Holds Workshop on Climate Change, Sustainable Development

A recent workshop, titled ‘Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Humanity,’ aimed to: help strengthen the global consensus on the importance of climate change in the context of sustainable development; elevate the importance of the moral dimensions of protecting the environment in advance of the Papal encyclical; and build a global movement to address climate change and sustainable development.

The workshop, which was organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Religions for Peace, met at the Vatican on 28 April 2015.

In a statement, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that science and religion are fully aligned, and are not at odds regarding climate change. He applauded the leadership of Pope Francis, noting he has been one of the world’s “most impassioned moral voices on climate change.” He said the world’s religions can provide valuable leadership to transform our economies, our thinking and our values. He urged participants to continue reducing their carbon footprint and educate their followers to reduce thoughtless consumption.

The workshop resulted in a ‘Declaration of Religious Leaders, Political Leaders, Business Leaders, Scientists and Development Practitioners,’ which highlights the connection between respect for the environment and for people, particularly the poor, the excluded, victims of human trafficking and modern slavery, children and future generations. It states that “human-induced climate change is a scientific reality” and “its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity.” The statement goes on to explain that humans have the technological and financial means, and the know-how, to combat human-induced climate change, while eliminating global poverty.

The statement explains that: financing sustainable development, including climate mitigation, should be supported by incentives for transitioning toward low-carbon energy, which will enable the shift of public financing from military spending to sustainable development investments; and climate change mitigation will require a transformation to renewable and other low-carbon energy and sustainable ecosystem management, carried out in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).