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‘Climate change turning Earth into desert’ - Pope

Pope Francis urged governments last week to make good on their commitments to curb global warming. 

He warned that climate change, continued unsustainable development and rampant consumption threatens to turn the Earth into a vast pile of "rubble, deserts and refuse."

Francis made the appeal at a Vatican conference marking the third anniversary of his landmark environmental encyclical "Praise Be." The document, meant to spur action at the 2015 Paris climate conference, called for a paradigm shift in humanity's relationship with Mother Nature.

In his remarks, Francis urged governments to honour their Paris commitments and said institutions like the IMF and World Bank had important roles to play in encouraging reforms promoting sustainable development.

"There is a real danger that we will leave future generations only rubble, deserts and refuse," he warned.

The Paris accord, reached by 195 countries, seeks to avoid some of the worst effects of climate change by curbing global greenhouse gas emissions via individual, non-binding national plans. US President Donald Trump has said the US will pull out of the accord negotiated by his predecessor unless he can get a better deal.

Last week's conference was the latest in a series of Vatican initiatives meant to impress a sense of urgency about global warming and the threat it poses in particular to the world's poorest and most marginalised people.

Recently, Francis invited oil executives and investors to the Vatican for a closed-door conference where he urged them to find alternatives to fossil fuels. He warned that climate change was a challenge of "epochal proportions."

And next year, Francis has called a three-week synod, or meeting of bishops, specifically to address the church's response to the ecological crisis in the Amazon, where deforestation threatens what he has called the "lung" of the planet and the indigenous peoples who live there.

"It grieves us to see the lands of indigenous peoples expropriated and their cultures trampled on by predatory schemes and by new forms of colonialism, fuelled by the culture of waste and consumerism," Francis said. 

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