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2 Dec, 2023 15:11

Give weapons-industry money to the hungry – Pope Francis

The pontiff also told the COP28 summit that ‘the destruction of the environment is an offense against God’
Give weapons-industry money to the hungry – Pope Francis

The Pope has called on world leaders to divert money being used to support conflicts across the globe into a fund to help eliminate world hunger, and also sounded the alarm about the impact of climate change, in an address to the COP28 summit in Dubai.

Pope Francis’ comments, delivered by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, cast a dire long-term outlook on the effects of climate change. In the wide-ranging statement, he called for an end to the fossil-fuel industry and for debt forgiveness to be introduced for poorer nations struggling to adapt to the impacts of a deteriorating environment.

As well as the proposed global fund to fight world hunger, the statement by the head of the Catholic Church, made in absentia as the 86-year-old is unwell, also signaled that the COP28 summit must be a turning point for major political change and a shift towards renewable energy.

“How much energy is humanity wasting in the many ongoing wars, such as in Israel and Palestine, in Ukraine and in many regions in the world: conflicts that will not solve the problems, but increase them,” the Pope asked the leaders through Cardinal Parolin.

“I am relaunching a proposal,” Francis’ statement continued, “with the money used on weapons and other military expenditure, we will set up a global fund to finally eliminate hunger.” It added that the “sustainable development of the poorest countries” must be actively promoted if these states are to have a solid foundation from which to fight climate change.

According to global data firm Statista, the United States was – by a wide margin – the biggest military spender in 2022 at about $877 billion, followed by China ($292 billion) and Russia ($86.4 billion).

Despite being unable to attend in person at the Dubai conference, the Pope stressed in his speech that “I am with you because now, more than ever, the future of us all depends on the present that we now choose. I am with you because the destruction of the environment is an offense against God.”

He added that the largest carbon-emitting countries are “responsible for a deeply troubling ecological debt.”

Pope Francis, a long-standing advocate of climate issues, has made the environment a central topic of his decade-long papacy. He has published two major papers on the subject, including one in October in which he argued that humanity has played a major role in worsening climate problems.

The COP28 summit continues until December 12.