On the fourth anniversary of his release of his care for creation encyclical "Laudato Si," Pope Francis declared that the earth is in a "climate emergency." In doing so, he joined similar declarations by the British Parliament and governments of other countries. He also met with representatives of large fossil fuel companies to encourage immediate action on climate change and the control of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
Pope Francis and the Church label climate change and global warming a moral issue, which involves protecting God's creation and life on earth. We are all neighbors of the most effected victims of climate change - the old and vulnerable, the poor, farmers and climate refugees. Just, as if not more importantly, we are intergenerational neighbors of our children and future generations.
"Laudato Si," a message to the entire world population, is a continuation in the Church's emphasis on our responsibility to care for creation. Among others, Pope Pius VI, Pope John Paul II and the U.S. Catholic bishops have also labeled the protection of creation as a moral issue.
In "Renewing the Earth," addressing global warming and the degradation of creation, the U.S. bishops stated, "We need a change of heart of preserve and protect the planet for our children and for generations yet unborn."
As Catholics, we are all able to join in the pope's message, by supporting these goals of the New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which targets an 85 percent reduction of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 2050. To reach this goal, the act recognizes the implementation of developing renewable energy sources of wind, solar and hydro, reducing energy consumption, a just transition to protect energy workers and the distribution of funding for clean energy development to the most economically and socially disadvantaged residents and neighborhoods effected by climate change. These are the same goals set forth in "Laudato Si."