Pope Francis Compares Effects of Climate Change to World War II

ROME, Italy — Pope Francis sent a striking message to the U.N. Climate Conference in Glasgow Tuesday, in which he compared the effects of climate change to those of World War II.

“The wounds inflicted on our human family by the Covid-19 pandemic and the phenomenon of climate change are comparable to those resulting from a global conflict,” the pope said in his message to COP26, read aloud in Glasgow by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

“Today, as in the aftermath of the Second World War, the international community as a whole needs to set as a priority the implementation of collegial, solidary and farsighted actions,” the pontiff continued.

A little further along, Francis returned to the same analogy, forecasting that “in the near future, environmental migrants will be more numerous than refugees from war and conflicts.”

In his message, the pope urged the world’s leaders to take up “the vital task of demonstrating to the entire international community whether there really exists a political will to devote – with honesty, responsibility and courage – greater human, financial and technological resources to mitigating the negative effects of climate change.”

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin speaks at the COP26 Summit, in Glasgow, Scotland, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. The U.N. climate summit in Glasgow gathers leaders from around the world, in Scotland’s biggest city, to lay out their vision for addressing the common challenge of global warming. (Daniel Leal Olivas /Pool Photo via AP)

There is “no alternative” to battling climate change, he stated, underscoring the importance of “the goals set by the Paris Agreement” in 2015.

Adopting still more hyperbolic language, the pope said that humanity faces “an epochal change,” while pressing wealthier nations to “take a leading role in the areas of climate finance, decarbonization in the economic system and in people’s lives, the promotion of a circular economy, providing support to more vulnerable countries.”

There is “no denying” that wealthier nations have a growing “ecological debt” to poorer nations because of their “disproportionate use” of natural resources, Francis said.

“The developed countries ought to help pay the ecological debt by significantly limiting their consumption of nonrenewable energy and by assisting poorer countries to support policies and programs of sustainable development,” he declared.

The lives of countless people, particularly those who are most vulnerable, have experienced the “increasingly frequent and devastating effects” of climate change, he asserted.