The Heartland Group, a conservative American pressure group, say it would be a grave mistake for Pope Francis to put moral authority behind scientists on climate change issue.
Groups of British and American skeptics of climate change believe that Pope Francis is being fed false information from the United Nations (UN) and that he should stick to speaking out on matters of morality and theology rather than getting involved in the climate change debate.
In an April 28 news report by UK-based The Telegraph, the Pope discussed climate change with Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General, during a one-day Vatican conference held April 28 called “The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development”.
The conference, hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, brought together around 60 Catholic leaders, economists and scientists. In a statement, participants said that “human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive control is a moral imperative for all of humanity”.
The Telegraph reported that while Pope Francis discussed the challenges of climate change, a few hundred yards away, in a hotel conference room on the broad avenue that leads to St Peter’s Basilica, skeptics accused the UN and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of scare-mongering on the issue.
“The Pope has great moral authority but he’s not an authority on climate science. He’s a learned man but the IPCC has got it wrong,” Jim Lakely of the Heartland Institute, a conservative American pressure group partly funded by billionaire industrialists who question climate change, told The Telegraph.
It was the first time the Heartland Institute, which is based in Chicago, Ill. and has been described by the New York Times as the primary American organization pushing climate change skepticism, had traveled to Rome to try to influence a pope.
“I hope our impact on the debate ahead of the Pope’s encyclical will be very significant. There are 1.2 billion Catholics in the world and they tend to pay attention to what the Pope says,” Lakely said.
The denial of climate change was attacked by Brendan Montague, the founder of Desmog UK, a campaign group calling for action on the issue.