Wednesday

20th Feb 2019

Consume less to save planet, Pope says

  • Pope Francis on bailouts: 'Saving banks at any cost ... only reaffirms the absolute power of a financial system' (Photo: Aleteia Image Department)

Pope Francis, religious leader to almost half the citizens of the EU, called on them and the rest of the world to consume less to save the earth from catastrophic climate change.

In a papal document called an encyclical letter, published Thursday (18 June), he wrote that even as awareness of environmental damage of particular behaviour has increased, what he considered a necessary lifestyle change is still not being carried out.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“People may well have a growing ecological sensitivity but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption which, rather than decreasing, appear to be growing all the more. A simple example is the increasing use and power of air-conditioning. The markets, which immediately benefit from sales, stimulate ever greater demand” the pope writes.

“An outsider looking at our world would be amazed at such behaviour, which at times appears self-destructive.”

The religious leader also called on consumers to use their economic power to force businesses to change towards cleaner production methods.

“When social pressure affects their earnings, businesses clearly have to find ways to produce differently.”

He added that one man or woman can make a difference.

“We must not think that these efforts are not going to change the world. They benefit society, often unbeknown to us, for they call forth a goodness which, albeit unseen, inevitably tends to spread.”

The text was praised by environmental organisations, but also by European climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete and US president Barack Obama.

British academic Nicholas Stern, who wrote an influential review of the impact of climate change, said the encyclical “is of enormous significance”.

Pope Francis criticized the “whirlwind of needless buying and spending”, which is caused by the market and said that economy should not be placed above everything else.

“Politics must not be subject to the economy, nor should the economy be subject to the dictates of an efficiency-driven paradigm of technocracy”, he wrote.

Bailouts

In his letter, the pope also criticised bank bailouts.

“Saving banks at any cost, making the public pay the price, foregoing a firm commitment to reviewing and reforming the entire system, only reaffirms the absolute power of a financial system, a power which has no future and will only give rise to new crises after a slow, costly and only apparent recovery.”

Francis wrote that after the 2007-2008 financial crisis, the world missed an opportunity to develop “a new economy, more attentive to ethical principles”.

The plight of the world's poor is linked to the climate threat, he said, noting that “we cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation”.

“We have to realise that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

Francis noted that “many professionals, opinion makers, communications media and centres of power, being located in affluent urban areas, are far removed from the poor, with little direct contact with their problems.”

He heckled “the throwaway culture” and rallied behind the idea of a circular economy, in which materials are used in the most efficient way.

ETS

Indirectly, Francis flayed the EU's flagship policy on climate, the emissions trading system.

“The strategy of buying and selling 'carbon credits' can lead to a new form of speculation which would not help reduce the emission of polluting gases worldwide. This system seems to provide a quick and easy solution under the guise of a certain commitment to the environment, but in no way does it allow for the radical change which present circumstances require", he said.

"Rather, it may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.”

EU is 'aged and weary', pope says

Pope Francis has criticised the EU's treatment of migrants, its institutions, and its focus on growth and consumerism.

Pope Francis to EU: Migrants are not criminals

In a speech strongly criticising European leaders, pope Francis urged the EU to welcome migrants and revamp its economic policies to make them fairer toward young people.

News in Brief

  1. British PM to batter against EU wall on Brexit
  2. Hungary and Slovakia break EU line on Jerusalem
  3. Germany and France to overhaul EU competition law
  4. Estonia kicks out Danske Bank over money laundering scandal
  5. May and Juncker meet over Brexit on Wednesday
  6. EU promises to open up advisory groups
  7. EU agrees to limit CO2 emissions by trucks
  8. Juncker under attack in Hungary government ad

Stakeholder

COP24 Nordic Pavilion: sharing climate solutions with the world

The Nordic Pavilion at COP24 is dedicated to dialogue – TalaNordic – about key themes regarding the transition to a low-carbon society, such as energy, transport, urban futures, the circular economy and green financing.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy
  2. Juncker: Orban should leave Europe's centre-right
  3. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties
  4. EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news
  5. Trump right for once: Europe should take back foreign fighters
  6. EU should clarify rules for plant burgers and lab meat
  7. Italian populists could be second biggest force in EU parliament
  8. Merkel defends Russia ties, ridicules Trump on cars

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us