BRUSSELS (CNS) — An international alliance of Catholic social justice organizations called on governments to respond to climate change in ways that reflect the sentiments Pope Francis expressed in his encyclical, “Laudato Si’.”

In a position paper released Nov. 15 at the U.N. climate talks in Bonn, Germany, International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity, or CIDSE, said the success of the Paris climate agreement depends on “our own cultural and spiritual transformation,” as described by the pope.

“We will not be able to alleviate poverty and develop in a progressive way without recognizing the connection between ourselves and nature, and the important role nature plays in enabling us to develop. Likewise, we will not tackle climate change without addressing the social, economic and political factors that drive our current development pathway, putting us at odds with the stability of the planet on which we depend,” said the paper, “Climate Action for the Common Good.”


The document poses questions that stem from the encyclical and focus on assuring that climate action is a just undertaking for everyone on the planet.

It repeatedly cites the encyclical and appeals for concrete global action rooted in long-standing Catholic social teaching.

“This paper offers the opportunity to evaluate how we are currently doing against the ambition we set” two years after the Paris agreement was signed, the document said.

“The climate crisis offers us an opportunity to reassess our fundamental vision of development and engage in an unprecedented level of cooperation and solidarity within and between countries,” it added.

The Paris agreement initially was signed by every nation but Syria and Nicaragua. While the two countries joined recently, President Donald Trump announced in June that the United States would initiate proceedings to withdraw from it.

Questions in the position paper focus on whether climate action addresses poverty and strengthens human rights; ensuring that actions on climate change match the challenge posed by a warming planet; consideration of the environment as a whole in the development of climate plans; inclusive and democratic participation as climate plans are developed; ensuring a just transition from carbon fuels so that poor and marginalized people are not negatively affected; and whether plans and solutions acknowledge and support the personal and spiritual dimensions of addressing climate change.

CIDSE said in releasing the document that countries represented in the Paris agreement have not done enough to fulfill their responsibilities on climate. The organization also lamented the withdrawal of the United States from the accord.

“Through the paper we want to reinforce the urgency of the pope’s call for transformation in Laudato Si’,” Josianne Gauthier, CIDSE’s general secretary, said in a statement. “Options exist, human ingenuity and creativity exist, and local and indigenous knowledge. It is time that people and their solutions become the center of urgent and ambitious climate action.”