President Obama and Pope Francis on Wednesday morning spoke in unison on the need to confront climate change and save the planet, with both men saying humanity has a moral obligation to act now and not saddle future generations with a growing problem.
With thousands gathered on the south lawn of the White House, Mr. Obama welcomed the pope to the U.S. In brief remarks, the president praised the pontiff’s call to action on climate change.
“Holy Father, you remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet — God’s magnificent gift to us. We support your call to all world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable to a changing climate and to come together to preserve our precious world for future generations,” Mr. Obama said.
Pope Francis this past summer released a highly anticipated encyclical on climate change. In the lengthy document, he called on all nations — including the U.S. — to rethink the way they use energy and even how they construct cities.
Protecting the planet, the pontiff argued, is both a social and moral responsibility.
He repeated that call Wednesday morning, drawing cheers from the nearly 11,000 who descended on the White House to hear his first-ever speech in America.
“I am finding it encouraging you re proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution … It seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem [that] can no longer be left to our future generations,” the pontiff said. “We are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the change needed.”
Pope Francis was referring to Mr. Obama’s ambitious climate agenda, which centers on the first federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants. The pontiff has called on countries around the world to embrace similar policies.
The pope also quoted the late Martin Luther King Jr. in making his climate pitch.
“We can say that we have defaulted on our promissory note, and now is the time to honor it,” he said.