With a career that includes stints as a chemical technician and nightclub bouncer, Pope Francis is the first Pope from the Americas and the first Pope from the Southern Hemisphere. He’s also not scared to talk about environment, purportedly picking his name to reflect (via a nod to St. Francis of Assisi) a care for the environment.
Although rumours of his fracktivism might be over-hyped, a key Vatican statement on human ecology is expected next year. This new statement – an Encyclical, the highest form of papal writing – is likely to come after Ban Ki-Moon’s big New York negotiations in September, but be an important point in the debate leading to the 2015 talks. After the Warsaw climate talks, the Vatican’s representative to the UN underlinedthe issue of equity, and this may well be a key theme.
With an audience of over a billion Catholics globally, Pope Francis has power to influence political debate in many different countries. He is only one of many religious leaders speaking out on climate change –Desmond Tutu being a notable example – on the subject of climate change, and won’t be alone.