Pope to UN conference: Don't waste chance to save the planet

Pope Francis is issuing an urgent appeal to world leaders ahead of the U.N. climate conference to take “radical decisions” to protect the environment and prioritize the common good

In the message, Francis urged political leaders not to waste the opportunity created by the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic to change course and chart a future based on a sense of shared responsibility for a common destiny.

“It means giving priority to the common good, and it calls for a change in perspective, a new outlook, in which the dignity of every human being, now and in the future, will guide our ways of thinking and acting,” Francis said. “The most important lesson we can take from these crises is our need to build together, so that there will no longer be any borders, barriers or political walls for us to hide behind.”

Francis has made caring for God’s Creation one of the hallmarks of his papacy. In 2015, ahead of the last U.N. climate conference in Paris, he penned the first-ever ecological encyclical, “Praised Be,” in which he denounced how the “perverse” profit-at-all-costs global economic model had exploited the poorest, ravaged Earth's natural resources and turned the planet into an “immense pile of filth.”