From December 3-14, 2018, representatives of the world’s governments gathered in the Polish town of Katowice for the COP24 climate summit, to advance the implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, “which set the demanding yet fundamental goal of halting the rise of the global temperature.”
At a time when many governments are failing to honor their climate commitments, the voice of the Catholic Church and the prophetic message of the encyclical Laudato Si’ were an important contribution to the Katowice conversation. It was a vivid illustration of the Church putting into practice the mandate of Pope Benedict XVI to engage in the environmental debate: “The Church has a responsibility toward creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere. In so doing, she must defend not only earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to everyone. She must above all protect mankind from self-destruction” (Caritas in veritate, 51).
The significance of the Conference was heightened by an unprecedented warning issued by the scientific community two months earlier. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its “Special Report on the Impacts of Global Warming of 1.5°C,” which reminded the human family about the severe urgency of the climate crisis.
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