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Friday, October 31, 2014

The Holy See at the United Nations: climate change is not only an environmental problem, but also a matter of justice

Vatican City, 31 October 2014 (VIS) – On 16 October Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations, addressed the Second Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, dedicated to “Sustainable development: protection of global climate for present and future generations”.

“While the impact of climate change is felt globally, developed and technologically advanced countries have greater capacity to adapt and mitigate the adverse effects, whereas developing and poor nations remain particularly vulnerable”, he said. “During the Climate Summit on September 23 and on many other occasions, we have heard the urgent pleas of Small Island States that climate change is an existential threat to them. This is paradoxical and unjust, given that the primary factors of climate change, like high consumption and high-quantity greenhouse gas emissions, characterize highly industrialised societies. That is why the Holy See believes that climate change is not only an environmental question; it is also a question of justice and a moral imperative”.

“It is a matter of justice to help poor and vulnerable people suffering the most from causes largely not of their making and beyond their control”, emphasised the archbishop. “One concrete step would be to make available to them the best in adaptation and mitigation technology. And now all eyes are already turned to the Twenty-first Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Eleventh Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, which will take place in Paris in December 2015. There, the poor and the rich – indeed, all of us – will be winners if we can reach agreement on a post-2020 international regime, in which all the nations of the world, including the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, bind themselves to a universal agreement on climate”.

“It is along this line that my delegation sees a relevance of the term 'responsibility to protect', not only in the humanitarian and human rights areas, but in the question of climate change as well. Everyone shares the responsibility to protect our planet and the human family. … Let us make the conscientious choice of refraining from lifestyles and behaviour that could worsen the state of our planet, and let us promote initiatives that protect and heal it. The world has become a village; thus, we must become more and more aware of this mutual and common responsibility. In particular, States have the grave duty to make policy decisions and devise monitoring structures to ensure that present and future generations live in a safe and worthy environment”, he concluded.

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