As the world eagerly awaits Pope Francis′s encyclical on climate change this Thursday, some scientists have come out and said that the papal letter could draw a larger impact than the world leaders hammering out emissions negotiations at the UN climate summit in Paris this December.
“I’m not a religious person at all,” NASA climatologist Gavin Schmidt told USA TODAY, adding that faith-based efforts to shift thinking on climate action are very promising. “The Pope’s encyclical is probably going to have a bigger impact than the Paris negotiations.”
Even though climate change is considered a secular topic, according to the Associated Press, Pope Francis’s message will focus on the moral imperative to fight global warming, since thepoor are the most affected by it. And the Pope’s message is meant for a global audience, not just Catholics. “This encyclical is aimed at everyone: Let us pray that everyone can receive its message and grow in responsibility toward the common home that God has given us,” the Pontiff said Sunday in before a crowd of thousands in St. Peter’s Square.
Jeff Kiehl with the National Center for Atmospheric Research told USA TODAY that the Pope’s reach could be huge. “The encyclical is going to go out to over 1 billion Catholics—that’s a way of getting a message across to a segment of society that the scientific community could never do,” he said. “I mean it’s just unbelievable.”
Business leaders, non-profit organizations, nongovernmental organizations, national governments and citizens all over the world will congregate at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris (COP21) later this year, where these international leaders will (hopefully) sign a strong emissions reductions agreement.