The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how the Earth can recover “if we allow it to rest”, Pope Francis said in a stark warning on the potential damage to the planet.
In his latest appeal on the environment, Francis urged people to adopt simpler lifestyles to help a planet “groaning” under the constant demand for economic growth.
He also renewed his call for the cancellation of the debts of the most vulnerable countries. That action would be just, the pope said, since rich countries have exploited poorer nations’ natural resources.
We’re calling for lasting changes to be made that will ensure littering and those responsible for it are dealt with far more seriously.
Together with our community platform InYourArea and campaign group Clean Up Britain, we’re calling for the fixed penalty notice for anyone caught littering to be increased to £1,000 and for it to be compulsory for local authorities to enforce the law on what is already a criminal offence.
“In some ways, the current pandemic has led us to rediscover simpler and sustainable lifestyles,” Francis said in a written message.
“Already we can see how the Earth can recover if we allow it to rest: the air becomes cleaner, the waters clearer, and animals have returned to many places from where they had previously disappeared,” he wrote.
“The pandemic has brought us to a crossroads.”
The pontiff urged people to seize the opportunity to examine habits of energy usage, consumption, transportation and diet.
Until now, “constant demand for growth and an endless cycle of production and consumption are exhausting the natural world”, the pope said, adding: “Creation is groaning.”
Francis hailed the indigenous communities that “live in harmony with the land and its multiple forms of life”, adding it was “time for restorative justice”.
“We also need to ensure that the recovery packages being developed and deployed at global, regional and national levels must be regeneration packages,” Francis said, without naming any particular nations or regions.