Pope Francis leads by example, committing Vatican City to be carbon-free by 2050

December 22, 2020

St. Peter’s Basilica (photo by Mstyslav Chernov)

“The moment has come for a change of direction. Let us not rob the new generations of their hope in a better future.”

Using those prophetic words, Pope Francis recently encouraged countries around the world to work towards net-zero carbon emissions, and he committed the Vatican to reaching that target by 2050.

“The current pandemic and climate change…  appeal to our responsibility to promote, through collective and joint commitment, a culture of care, which places human dignity and the common good at the centre,” Pope Francis said.

His Holiness spoke in a video message at the Climate Ambition Summit, which was held online 12 December and co-hosted by the United Nations, United Kingdom, and France.

The gathering marked the fifth anniversary of the historic Paris Climate Agreement.

The accord was signed by nearly all of the globe’s countries and provides a framework for the world to limit global temperature rise this century to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in order to reduce the worst effects of the climate emergency.

Pope Francis said the Vatican will pursue a carbon-free future through improving its environmental management by focusing on energy efficiency, resource conversation, sustainable transportation, recycling waste, and reforestation.

The world’s smallest country also plans to promote education in integral ecology, one of the hallmarks of Laudato Si’.

“Political and technical measures must be united with an educational process that favors a cultural model of development and sustainability based on fraternity and the alliance between the human being and the environment,” Pope Francis said.

The Pope is building on the work of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who oversaw the installation of solar panels on the Vatican’s Nervi Hall.

Pope Benedict XVI also approved of the Vatican funding a Hungarian forest, a move that made Vatican City the first country to become carbon neutral.