For Immediate Release, June 18, 2015
Contact: Patrick Sullivan, (415) 517-9364, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pope's Bold Call for Climate Action Puts World Leaders in Hot Seat
Vatican Message Increases Pressure for Ambitious Carbon Pollution Cuts
WASHINGTON— Pope Francis published a bold call for climate action today that increases pressure on President Obama and other world leaders to take big steps to fight global warming ahead of December’s United Nations climate talks in Paris.
The pope’s letter to bishops, called an encyclical, calls climate change “a global problem with grave implications" and urges people to consume less energy. “There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy,” the pope wrote.
“The pope’s bold call for climate action puts President Obama and other world leaders in the hot seat,” said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Unless governments act now, global warming will devastate our environment and inflict horrific suffering on the world’s poorest people. We need a fair, ambitious and binding global treaty that quickly curbs the dangerous pollution that’s cooking our climate.”
The Obama administration earlier this year announced a national target for carbon pollution cuts ahead of the Paris talks. Under the Obama plan, the United States would cut pollution by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Even if successful, Obama’s plan would still leave the United States emitting at least 5 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution a year in 2025, according to Center calculations based on the EPA’s most recent emissions inventory. By way of comparison, the entire continent of Africa emitted just over 3 billion tons in 2011.
Using the international standard base year of 1990, the target translates to reductions of just 14 to 16 percent by 2025. But the U.S. and other developed countries must cut pollution by at least 25 percent to 55 percent below 1990 levels by 2025 to do their fair share in helping to avoid a climate catastrophe, according to calculations by a team of scientists.
The Obama administration has also been moving quickly to turn more of our public lands and offshore coastal areas over to private companies for drilling, mining and fracking. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell recently pledged to open “vast areas” of the ocean to oil drilling.
“Pope Francis just highlighted our moral duty to protect vulnerable people and our environment from global warming,” Siegel said. “In the face of that terrifying threat, President Obama’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy is an ethical and scientific disaster. To truly fight climate change, the United States must move quickly away from dirty fossil fuels and help developing countries leapfrog into a clean energy future.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.