Pope Francis said in a message released on Friday that political leaders should give “concrete hope” to future generations that they are taking the radical steps needed to tackle climate change when they meet at COP26.
The United Nations summit runs from October 31 to November 12 in Glasgow, Scotland, and Pope Francis has called for a “renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world” to spur action.
“It is imperative that each of us commit to this urgent change of direction,” he told BBC Radio.
“The policy-makers who will meet at COP26 in Glasgow are urgently called upon to provide effective responses to the current environmental crisis and in this way to offer tangible hope for future generations.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the summit is incredibly important, but the outcome is in the balance because talks will be difficult.
Pope Francis said the summit would be difficult but also an opportunity.
“These crises present us with the need to make decisions, and radical decisions are not always easy,” he said.
“At the same time, moments of difficulty like these also present opportunities and opportunities that we should not miss.”
The Vatican is sending a delegation to the summit, but the 84-year-old pope will not go after surgery earlier this year.
Pope Francis has warned of the dangers of isolationism and protectionism in dealing with the climate crisis.
We can confront these crises by returning to isolationism, protectionism and exploitation. Or we can see in them a real opportunity for change, a real moment of conversion, and not just in a spiritual sense,” he said.
“Only this latter approach can point us toward a brighter horizon.”