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Climate deal must be transformative, papal envoy tells leaders in Paris

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Smoke billows from the chimneys of power plant in 2014 in Belchatow, Poland. Photo: CNS/Kacper Pempel, Reuters
Smoke billows from the chimneys of power plant in 2014 in Belchatow, Poland. Photo: CNS/Kacper Pempel, Reuters

Heads of state discussing carbon emission limits must create a global and “transformative” agreement built on justice, solidarity and fairness, a papal representative told the U.N. climate conference in Paris.

Pope Francis has said “it would be tragic” if special interests “manipulated information” and won out over the common good, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said on 30 November.

The cardinal delivered a speech on behalf of the pope during the 30 November-11 December Conference of Parties, or COP21, in Paris. The Vatican released a copy of the speech on 1 December.

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A global agreement must have three interrelated goals in mind: “alleviate the impact of climate change, fight poverty and let the dignity of the human person flourish,” the cardinal said in a speech delivered in French.

A meaningful global pact must be guided by a clear ethical vision that sees all of humanity as belonging to one human family, and has “no room for the so-called globalisation of indifference”, he said.

“Given the urgency of a situation that requires the broadest collaboration possible in order to reach a common plan,” it is important the agreement recognise everyone’s responsibility to help others and according to one’s abilities and means.

An agreement must send “clear signals” to governments, businesses, the scientific community and local communities ton how to adjust or change their behaviour and policies in ways that leads to a low carbon economy and integral human development, he said.

Finally, the cardinal said, the COP21 endeavour must be part of an ever-evolving commitment to future generations with constant updates, follow-up and enforcement.

“It’s necessary to take into serious consideration the realisation of models of sustainable production and consumption and new behaviours and lifestyles,” he said.

“Technical solutions are necessary but not enough,” he said, adding that teaching and supporting sustainable lifestyles are critical. People must become more aware of their responsibility and that today’s lifestyles based on an unsustainable “culture of waste” have no place in new models of education and development.

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