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Strong, Important Words from Pope Francis on Climate Change

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Its nice to see that the Pope agrees with me about carbon trading. I argued strenuously during the fake consultation by the provincial government under Glen Murray that trading schemes are a false hope. The Pope writes:

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

There is also a passage in the encyclical that could have been written to Prime Minister Harper:

“We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay.”

“Without delay” means starting NOW, Mr Harper – not after you are dead. And remember, Mr Harper: this encyclical is aimed at Christians and world leaders – the Pope is talking to you.

I am not a religious person, but reading the encyclical I find a thoughtful and comprehensive discussion that I admire. Part of what I find impressive is the solid economic analysis. I admit I am surprised to hear the head of the Catholic church discussing externalties, the problem of social cost, and the nature of growth and development in ways that could easily go into an economics textbook. It will be as hard for critics to fault his economics as is is to fault the careful scientific analysis.

Incidentally, the Pope cites the Earth Charter, which grew out of efforts by Canadian Maurice Strong (and is endorsed by Canada’s Green Party). Green party leader Elizabeth May was among the drafters of that document and in 2000 became a founding member of the Earth Charter Commisssion – long before she became a member of the Green Party in fact.

Based on news reports, I thought the encyclical would prove a bit wishy-washy – I thought the Pope should say outright that Christian world leaders who were not acting on climate change are sinners in his eyes. He doesn’t go that far, but he doesn’t stop far short. If his followers actually read this document – if his Bishops broadcast the message – the Encyclical from Pope Francis – entitled “Praise be to you – On Care For Our Common Home” may help save the world.


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