Arquivo da tag: Política climática

‘Star Wars without Darth Vader’ – why the UN climate science story names no villains (Climate Home News)

Published on 12/01/2021, 4:10pm

As the next blockbuster science report on cutting emissions goes to governments for review, critics say it downplays the obstructive role of fossil fuel lobbying

Darth Vader: What would Star Wars be without its villain? (Pic: Pixabay)

By Joe Lo

On Monday, a weighty draft report on how to halt and reverse human-caused global warming will hit the inboxes of government experts. This is the final review before the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issues its official summary of the science.

While part of the brief was to identify barriers to climate action, critics say there is little space given to the obstructive role of fossil fuel lobbying – and that’s a problem.

Robert Brulle, an American sociologist who has long studied institutions that promote climate denial, likened it to “trying to tell the story of Star Wars, but omitting Darth Vader”.

Tweeting in November, Brulle explained he declined an invitation to contribute to the working group three (WG3) report. “It became clear to me that institutionalized efforts to obstruct climate action was a peripheral concern. So I didn’t consider it worth engaging in this effort. It really deserves its own chapter & mention in the summary.”

In an email exchange with Climate Home News, Brulle expressed a hope the final version would nonetheless reflect his feedback. The significance of obstruction efforts should be reflected in the summary for policymakers and not “buried in an obscure part of the report,” he wrote.

His tweet sparked a lively conversation among scientists, with several supporting his concerns and others defending the IPCC, which aims to give policymakers an overview of the scientific consensus.

David Keith, a Harvard researcher into solar geoengineering, agreed the IPCC “tells a bloodless story, and abstract numb version of the sharp political conflict that will shape climate action”.

Social ecology and ecological economics professor Julia Steinberger, a lead author on WG3, said “there is a lot of self-censorship” within the IPCC. Where authors identify enemies of climate action, like fossil fuel companies, that content is “immediately flagged as political or normative or policy-prescriptive”.

The next set of reports is likely to be “a bit better” at covering the issue than previous efforts, Steinberger added, “but mainly because the world and outside publications have overwhelmingly moved past this, and the IPCC is catching up: not because the IPCC is leading.”

Politics professor Matthew Paterson was a lead author on WG3 for the previous round of assessment reports, published in 2014. He told Climate Home that Brulle is “broadly right” lobbying hasn’t been given enough attention although there is a “decent chunk” in the latest draft on corporations fighting for their interests and slowing down climate action.

Paterson said this was partly because the expertise of authors didn’t cover fossil fuel company lobbying and partly because governments would oppose giving the subject greater prominence. “Not just Saudi Arabia,” he said. “They object to everything. But the Americans [and others too]”.

While the IPCC reports are produced by scientists, government representatives negotiate the initial scope and have some influence over how the evidence is summarised before approving them for publication. “There was definitely always a certain adaptation – or an internalised sense of what governments are and aren’t going to accept – in the report,” said Paterson.

The last WG3 report in 2014 was nearly 1,500 pages long. Lobbying was not mentioned in its 32-page ‘summary for policymakers’ but lobbying against carbon taxes is mentioned a few times in the full report.

On page 1,184, the report says some companies “promoted climate scepticism by providing financial resources to like-minded think-tanks and politicians”. The report immediately balances this by saying “other fossil fuel companies adopted a more supportive position on climate science”.

One of the co-chairs of WG3, Jim Skea, rejected the criticisms as “completely unfair”. He told Climate Home News: “The IPCC produces reports very slowly because the whole cycle lasts seven years… we can’t respond on a 24/7 news cycle basis to ideas that come up.”

Skea noted there was a chapter on policies and institutions in the 2014 report which covered lobbying from industry and from green campaigners and their influence on climate policy. “The volume of climate change mitigation literature that comes out every year is huge and I would say that the number of references to articles which talk about lobbying of all kinds – including industrial lobbying and whether people had known about the science – it is in there and about the right proportions”, he said.

“We’re not an advocacy organisation, we’re a scientific organisation, it’s not our job to take up arms and take one side or another” he said. “That’s the strength of the IPCC. If if oversteps its role, it will weaken its influence” and “undermine the scientific statements it makes”.

A broader, long-running criticism of the IPCC is that it downplays subjects like political science, development studies, sociology and anthropology and over-relies on economists and the people who put together ‘integrated assessment models’ (IAMs), which attempt to answer big questions like how the world can keep to 1.5C of global warming.

Paterson said the IPCC is “largely dominated by large-scale modellers or economists and the representations of others sorts of social scientists’ expertise is very thin”. A report he co-authored on the social make-up of that IPCC working group found that nearly half the authors were engineers or economists but just 15% were from social sciences other than economics. This dominance was sharper among the more powerful authors. Of the 35 Contributing Lead Authors, 20 were economists or engineers,  there was one each from political science, geography and law and none from the humanities.

Wim Carton, a lecturer in the political economy of climate change mitigation at Lund University, said that the IPCC (and scientific research in general) has been caught up in “adulation” of IAMs and this has led to “narrow techno-economic conceptualisations of future mitigation pathways”.

Skea said that there has been lots of material on political science and international relations and even “quite a bit” on moral philosophy. He told Climate Home: “It’s not the case that IPCC is only economics and modelling. Frankly, a lot of that catches attention because these macro numbers are eye-catching. There’s a big difference in the emphasis in [media] coverage of IPCC reports and the balance of materials when you go into the reports themselves.”

According to Skea’s calculations, the big models make up only 6% of the report contents, about a quarter of the summary and the majority of the press coverage. “But there’s an awful lot of bread-and-butter material in IPCC reports which is just about how you get on with it,” he added. “It’s not sexy material but it’s just as important because that’s what needs to be done to mitigate climate change.”

While saying their dominance had been amplified by the media, Skea defended the usefulness of IAMs. “Our audience are governments. Their big question is how you connect all this human activity with actual impacts on the climate. It’s very difficult to make that leap without actually modelling it. You can’t do it with lots of little micro-studies. You need models and you need scenarios to think your way through that connection.”

The IPCC has also been accused of placing too much faith in negative emissions technologies and geo-engineering. Carton calls these technologies ‘carbon unicorns’ because he says they “do not exist at any meaningful scale” and probably never will.

In a recent book chapter, Carton argues: “If one is to believe recent IPCC reports, then gone are the days when the world could resolve the climate crisis merely by reducing emissions. Avoiding global warming in excess of 2°C/1.5°C now also involves a rather more interventionist enterprise: to remove vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, amounts that only increase the longer emissions refuse to fall.”

When asked about carbon capture technologies, Skea said that in terms of deployment, “they haven’t moved on very much” since the last big IPCC report in 2014. He added that carbon capture and storage and bio-energy are “all things that have been done commercially somewhere in the world.”

“What has never been done”, he said, “is to connect the different parts of the system together and run them over all. That’s led many people looking at the literature to conclude that the main barriers to the adoption of some technologies are the lack of policy incentives and the lack of working out good business models to put what would be complex supply chains together – rather than anything that’s standing in the way technically.”

The next set of three IPCC assessment reports was originally due to be published in 2021, but work was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Governments and experts will have from 18 January to 14 March to read and comment on the draft for WG3. Dates for a final government review have yet to be set.

Análise: Frustrante, COP termina sem acordo sobre mercado nem ambição contra aquecimento (Estadão)

Artigo original

Giovana Girardi, 15 de dezembro de 2019 | 17h55

7-9 minutes

MADRI – A expectativa sobre a Conferência do Clima da ONU deste ano (COP-25) não era lá muito grande. Mas o clamor que veio das ruas ao longo de 2019 –  impulsionado por dois novos relatórios científicos do Painel Intergovernamental sobre Mudanças Climáticas (IPCC) que reforçaram a necessidade urgente de ações para conter o aquecimento global em até 1,5ºC até o final do século – dava uma esperança de que algo melhor poderia ser alcançado.

A COP de Madri, porém, foi um fracasso praticamente sob qualquer aspecto que se olhe. E bateu uma sensação de apatia e de desânimo de que talvez não haja mais vontade política para conter o desastre.

Pôsteres no centro de convenções de Madri onde ocorreu a COP pedem ação imediata contra as mudanças climáticas. Crédito: Giovana Girardi / Estadão

O clima – na falta de palavra melhor – nos corredores da Feria de Madrid ao longo dos últimos 14 dias era completamente oposto ao que se viu há quatro anos em Paris, quando 195 países se mobilizaram de modo inédito para fechar o Acordo de Paris.

Na época, os maiores poluidores do planeta, Estados Unidos e China, estavam na mesma página. O Brasil atuava como um facilitador para minimizar conflitos históricos entre países desenvolvidos e em desenvolvimento. União Europeia tinha cacife para pedir mais ambição.

Em Paris todos toparam se esforçar para conter o aquecimento a planeta a bem menos do que 2ºC até 2100, e se possível deixá-lo em 1,5ºC – limite da tragédia principalmente para os países mais vulneráveis às mudanças sofridas pelo planeta.

Todo mundo ali sabia, no entanto, que as metas que cada nação estava voluntariamente oferecendo (as chamadas NDCs – contribuições nacionalmente determinadas) para ajudar o esforço global não seriam suficientes para isso. Elas ainda colocavam o mundo no rumo de aquecer 3ºC, o que pode ser trágico até mesmo para os países ricos e mais bem estruturados. Era preciso evoluir rapidamente. O Acordo de Paris, então, trouxe uma cláusula: de que em 2020 seria feita uma nova rodada para atualizar e melhorar as metas.

De lá pra cá, as condições pioraram. As emissões mundiais não estão caindo – chegaram a subir nos últimos dois anos –, e as concentrações de gases de efeito estufa na atmosfera estão cada vez maiores. De acordo com cálculos do Programa da ONU para o Meio Ambiente (Pnuma), as emissões precisariam cair 7,6% ao ano para colocar o planeta nos trilhos do 1,5ºC. Queimadas em tudo quanto é canto, ondas de calor e tufões são alguns dos eventos críticos que ocorreram neste ano  atribuídos ao aquecimento global que mostram que este é um problema atual, não para o futuro.

O apelo, desse modo, era pra ter sinalizações mais concretas desse aumento de ambição já em 2019, na COP que era para ser na América Latina. Que era do Brasil, foi pro Chile após desistência do presidente Jair Bolsonaro, e foi pra Espanha após as convulsões sociais entre os chilenos. Faltaram rédeas curtas para a presidência chilena, mas, acima de tudo, faltou o espírito de Paris nesta COP. Ela terminou com um mera reafirmação do Acordo de Paris, sem acrescentar quase nada.

Nações mais pobres ou menores, que pouco contribuíram para a quantidade de gases de efeito estufa que sufocam hoje a Terra, foram as mais ativas. Se comprometeram a aumentar suas metas de redução de emissões, mas, juntas, elas não respondem nem por 10% das emissões do planeta. A União Europeia também se comprometeu com neutralidade de carbono até 2050, mas pode ser tarde demais.

Os Estados Unidos, que chegaram a Madri após apresentarem oficialmente sua “carta de demissão” do Acordo de Paris, abandonaram qualquer bom senso, assim como a Austrália, apesar de o país ter literalmente pegado fogo neste ano, e, para surpresa dos demais negociadores, o Brasil. O País, com forte tradição ambiental e diplomática, que em geral atuava destravando as negociações, adotou uma postura bem pouco construtiva.

O ministro do Meio Ambiente, Ricardo Salles, que chefiou a delegação brasileira, esteve na conferência do primeiro ao último dia, e passou boa parte do tempo cobrando seus pares a pagarem o Brasil por feitos do passado. Por emissões que o País reduziu quando cortou o desmatamento, nos governos Lula e Dilma, e por créditos emitidos no regime anterior, o Protocolo de Kyoto, que nunca foram pagos. Não se manifestou sobre as condições ruins que carregava nas costas – a alta de 29,5% no desmatamento neste ano.

Outros países chegaram a relatar constrangimento com a postura e houve críticas de que o Brasil estava dificultando o estabelecimento de um acordo, especialmente sobre o artigo 6 do Acordo de Paris, que estabelece mecanismos de mercado. Esse era um dos objetivos da COP de Madri – definir as regras para esses mercados, mas mesmo depois de a COP se prorrogar até este domingo – deveria ter fechado na sexta, 13 – não foi possível chegar a um acordo.

Brasil ganha “fóssil do ano’ por aumento no desmatamento, mortes de indígenas e por não ajudar na COP do Clima em Madri. Crédito: Giovana Girardi / Estadão

Justiça seja feita, não foi só o Brasil. Cada país queria uma coisa para esses mecanismos. E Salles disse à imprensa brasileira, no seu único posicionamento coletivo aos jornalistas nacionais, que queria um acordo sobre mercado de qualquer jeito. Mas ele pedia regras consideradas bem pouco razoáveis, que poderiam resultar na chamada dupla contagem de redução de emissões para cumprimento de metas de dois países, comprometendo a integridade do Acordo de Paris.

O Brasil chegou a ser chamado de pária ambiental e, por isso, foi por três vezes “homenageado” por ONGs internacionais como um problema para as negociações. Pela primeira vez na história das COPs, recebeu o prêmio “fóssil do ano“.

Nada deu certo. A decisão sobre mercado de carbono e sobre ambição ficou para a COP seguinte, em Glasgow, na Escócia. Parece cada vez mais impossível ficar em 1,5ºC.

Para compensar nossas emissões na COP, um almoço veggie!

— Ricardo Salles MMA (@rsallesmma) December 15, 2019

Salles optou por fazer troça ao final da COP. Depois de postar um vídeo no seu twitter dizendo que a “COP-25 não deu em nada”, apesar “de todos os esforços do Brasil”, algumas horas publicou em suas redes sociais uma foto de um prato enorme de carne dizendo: “Para compensar nossas emissões na COP, um almoço veggie!”. A pecuária e sua expansão sobre a Floresta Amazônica são o setor responsável pelo maior fatia das emissões de gases de efeito estufa do País.

* A repórter viajou a convite do Instituto Clima e Sociedade (iCS)

Em 192 páginas, papa Francisco celebra meio ambiente (Estadão)

Revista italiana antecipa conteúdo da encíclica que o Vaticano divulga nesta quinta (18)

Jorge Bergoglio mostra que é Francisco iniciando sua encíclica com o santo de quem emprestou o nome. Laudato Sii (ou, em português, Louvado Seja) teve o conteúdo antecipado nesta segunda-feira, 15, pela revista italiana L’Espresso – em uma última versão antes da revisão final. A encíclica é considerada a primeira, de fato, de autoria de Francisco – já que a Lumen Fidei, de julho de 2013, havia sido iniciada por Bento XVI.

Conforme especialistas já apostavam, o documento é voltado à importância dos cuidados com o meio ambiente. Ele traz no capítulo Diálogo sobre o Ambiente na Política Internacional um apelo do papa. Ele diz que acordos internacionais são urgentes para “estabelecer percursos negociados a fim de evitar catástrofes locais que acabam por prejudicar a todos”.

“O mais importante é que o papa foi bastante radical na denúncia das desigualdades econômicas e das injustiças sociais associadas à degradação do meio ambiente”, pontua o biólogo e sociólogo Francisco Borba Ribeiro Neto, coordenador do Núcleo Fé e Cultura da Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo (PUC-SP) – e professor, durante 20 anos, de Ecologia na PUC de Campinas.

“Ele mostra que os primeiros reflexos dos problemas ambientais se dão na vida dos mais pobres, dos mais frágeis. Isso é algo que muitas vezes o próprio movimento ambientalista não tem de forma clara.”

Esta é a 298.º encíclica da história da Igreja Católica – e a primeira que traz a ecologia como ponto central. Oficialmente, o Vaticano vai divulgar o documento na quinta-feira. Francisco teve muitos consultores para escrever a carta. Dentre os brasileiros, teriam sido ouvidos o teólogo Leonardo Boff, além de d. Erwin Kläutler, bispo da prelazia do Xingu.

“É comum que sejam consultados especialistas durante o processo de feitura das encíclicas”, explica o filósofo e teólogo Fernando Altemeyer Júnior, professor da PUC de São Paulo. “Nenhuma encíclica tem apenas as mãos do papa. Historicamente, é notável o trabalho do Padre Lebret (Louis-Joseph Lebret, dominicano francês que viveu entre 1897 e 1966, tendo passado parte da vida no Brasil), que praticamente foi o ‘ghost writer’ da Populorum Progressio, do papa Paulo VI, encíclica que teve até o (ex-presidente da República) Fernando Henrique Cardoso como consultor indireto.”

São Francisco

“A escolha, aparentemente óbvia, mas nem tanto, de uma citação do Cântico das Criaturas, de São Francisco de Assis, para iniciar a encíclica, e a presença de um teólogo católico de rito oriental, Ioannis Zizioulas, na apresentação da encíclica (agendada para quinta) sugerem, contudo, a marca específica de Bergoglio no tratamento do tema”, comenta Borba. “Tanto no poema franciscano quanto na teologia oriental, a natureza ocupa um lugar muito mais destacado na mística católica do que no pensamento católico entre os Concílios de Trento (1545-1563) e Vaticano II (1962-1965).”

“O fato é que a encíclica chega num momento complexo para a defesa do meio ambiente em todo o planeta. Apesar do otimismo gerado pela Eco-92, pelo Protocolo de Kyoto (1997) sobre a redução da emissão dos gases responsáveis pelo efeito estufa e pelos Objetivos do Desenvolvimento do Milênio das Nações Unidas (2000), os primeiros 15 anos deste século viram um aumento da degradação ambiental e o sacrifício das agendas conservacionistas em função do crescimento econômico”, complementa o biólogo.

“Por outro lado, também cresceu a frequência dos desastres naturais por causas climáticas, como furacões, secas prolongadas, invernos muito frios e enchentes, levando várias lideranças mundiais a se declararem comprometidas com a questão ambiental e dispostas a mudar a escrita recente na Conferência de Paris sobre o Clima (COP21) neste ano.” Por fim, Borba diz que a encíclica deve retomar uma das principais críticas ao Protocolo de Kyoto: “A de que as nações ‘em desenvolvimento’ estariam desobrigadas de esforços para reduzir as emissões de gases para não reduzir seu crescimento econômico”.

Citações. Outro aspecto relevante do documento escrito por Francisco está nas notas de rodapé. Entre as 172 citações há a presença de outrora persona non grata na Igreja, como o jesuíta, teólogo, filósofo e paleontólogo francês Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), que defendia a integração entre ciência e tecnologia. “É revolucionária a menção dele em uma encíclica”, diz Altemeyer Júnior.

Também são significativas as menções a conferências nacionais de bispos – no total, há referências a colegiados de 14 países: Brasil, México, Austrália, Paraguai, Bolívia, Argentina, Nova Zelândia, Portugal, África do Sul, Filipinas, Alemanha, Estados Unidos, Japão e República Dominicana. “Com isso, Francisco mostra que ele é só mais um bispo, que o Vaticano não está acima dos demais bispos e, principalmente, que ele está ouvindo o que pensam seus colegas religiosos”, analisa o teólogo. “O papa se coloca como irmão entre irmãos.”

(Edison Veiga – O Estado de S. Paulo)

Leia mais:

Folha de S. Paulo – Francisco ecoa a escalada de anúncios globais sobre clima – Encíclica papal sobre meio ambiente é tema de campanha de ONGs

Pope Francis to Explore Climate’s Effect on World’s Poor (New York Times)

VATICAN CITY — Ban Ki-moon arrived at the Vatican with his own college of cardinals. Mr. Ban, the United Nations secretary general, had brought the leaders of all his major agencies to see Pope Francis, a show of organizational muscle and respect for a meeting between two global institutions that had sometimes shared a bumpy past but now had a mutual interest.

The agenda was poverty, and Francis inveighed against the “economy of exclusion” as he addressed Mr. Ban’s delegation at the Apostolic Palace. But in an informal meeting with Mr. Ban and his advisers, Francis shifted the discussion to the environment and how environmental degradation weighed heaviest on the poor.

“This is the pope of the poor,” said Robert Orr, who attended the May 2014 meeting as Mr. Ban’s special adviser on climate change and described the informal conversation with Francis. “The fact that he is making the link to the planet is really significant.”

On Thursday, Francis will release his first major teaching letter, known as an encyclical, on the theme of the environment and the poor. Given the pope’s widespread popularity, and his penchant for speaking out on major global issues, the encyclical is being treated as a milestone that could place the Roman Catholic Church at the forefront of a new coalition of religion and science.

Francis, the first pope from the developing world, clearly wants the document to have an impact: Its release comes during a year with three major international policy meetings, most notably a United Nations climate change conference in Paris in December. This month, the Vatican sent notifications to bishops around the world with instructions for spreading the pope’s environmental message to the more than one billion Catholics worldwide.

By wading into the environment debate, Francis is seeking to redefine a secular topic, one usually framed by scientific data, using theology and faith. And based on Francis’ prior comments, and those of influential cardinals, the encyclical is also likely to include an economic critique of how global capitalism, while helping lift millions out of poverty, has also exploited nature and created vast inequities.

“We clearly need a fundamental change of course, to protect the earth and its people — which in turn will allow us to dignify humanity,” Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, who oversaw the drafting of the encyclical, said at a conference on climate change this spring at the Vatican.

Vatican officials say that the encyclical is a theological document, not a political one, and have refused to divulge the contents. But there is already much speculation about how Francis will comment on humans’ role in causing climate change, a link he has spoken about in the past. The Vatican’s scientific academy recently attributed climate change to “unsustainable consumption” and called it “a dominant moral and ethical issue for society.”

This stance has rankled some conservative Catholics, as well as climate change skeptics, who have suggested that Francis is being misled by scientists and that he could veer into contentious subjects like population control. Others have argued that papal infallibility does not apply to matters of science. In April, a group of self-described climate skeptics, led by the Heartland Institute, a libertarian group, came to Rome to protest.

“The Vatican and the pope should be arguing that fossil fuels are the moral choice for the developing world,” said Marc Morano, who runs the website Climate Depot and once worked as an aide to Senator James M. Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican and climate change skeptic.

Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo of Argentina, who is also chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, has sharply rebutted the criticism and postulated that many of the attacks have been underwritten by oil companies or influenced by conservative American interests, including the Tea Party. “This is a ridiculous thing, completely,” Bishop Sorondo said in an interview at the Vatican.

The first clue of the pope’s interest in the environment came when he chose his name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the 13th century friar who dedicated himself to the poor and is considered the patron saint of animals and the environment. Francis had shown interest from his days in Argentina, when he was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires.

There, he played a major role in convening different leaders to seek solutions for Argentina’s social ills. Francesca Ambrogetti, who co-wrote a biography of Francis, said he pushed for scientists at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina to investigate the impact of environmental issues on humanity. As far back as September 2004, Cardinal Bergoglio cited the “destruction of the environment” as contributing to inequality and the need for social reforms. At a 2007 meeting of Latin American bishops in Aparecida, Brazil, he oversaw the drafting of a broad mission statement that included an emphasis on the environment.

Pablo Canziani, an atmospheric physicist who researches climate change, said Francis, who had once trained as a chemist, became very interested in the links between environmental destruction and social ills, including a dispute over paper pulp mills on the border with Uruguay, which Argentina claimed were polluting local drinking water.

The pope, Professor Canziani added, has stayed in touch. Last year, the Vatican invited professors at his university to contribute ideas for the encyclical. He said they sent a memo focused on legal issues, sustainability, civic responsibility and governance.

“I’m pretty certain Francis will be requesting a change in the paradigms of development,” he said. “The encyclical will focus on why we’re suffering environmental degradation, then focus on links to social issues.”

Pope Francis and Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, during a meeting at the Vatican.CreditL’Ossservatore Romano, via Associated Press 

The final document seems certain to bear the fingerprints of scientists and theologians from around the world. The Rev. Sean McDonagh, an Irish priest who has worked on environmental issues and climate change for decades, said that Cardinal Turkson contacted him more than a year ago and asked if he would write a comprehensive document about the theological and ethical aspects of environmental issues.

Father McDonagh said he had spent two or three months writing about climate change, biodiversity, oceans, sustainable food “and a section at the end on hope.” Then he sent it to the Vatican. “At the time, they didn’t say there would be an encyclical,” he recalled, adding that he was eager to see it.

The hoopla over Francis’ encyclical confounds some Vatican experts, who note that both of Francis’ predecessors, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, wrote about the role of industrial pollution in destroying the environment. Benedict was called the “green pope” after he initiated projects to make the Vatican carbon-neutral. Other religious groups, including evangelical Christians, have spoken about the impact of environmental destruction on the poor.

But many analysts argue that Francis has a singular status, partly because of his global popularity. And in placing the issue at the center of an encyclical, especially at a moment when sustainable development is atop the international agenda, Francis is placing the Catholic Church — and the morality of economic development — at the center of the debate. In January, while traveling to the Philippines, Francis told reporters accompanying him that he was convinced that global warming was “mostly” a human-made phenomenon.

“It is man who has slapped nature in the face,” he said, adding: “I think we have exploited nature too much.”

Francis will travel in July to South America, and in September to Cuba and the United States, where he will speak about his encyclical at the United Nations.

“He is certainly going on the road,” said the Rev. Michael Czerny, a Jesuit priest who works under Cardinal Turkson and has been involved in drafting the encyclical. “This is certainly an agenda-setting document.”

Helen Clark, administrator of the United Nations Development Program, said Francis had an “emerging agenda” on social issues and seemed determined “to make his period in office one related to the great concerns affecting humanity.” She added: “He is a man in a hurry.”

Ms. Clark and other development officials can tick off myriad ways that the global poor bear the brunt of environmental damage and changing weather patterns, whether they are African farmers whose crops are destroyed by drought or South Asian farmers threatened by rising sea levels. In this context, Vatican officials say, Francis is likely to see moral injustice.

“Rich people are more prepared,” said Bishop Sorondo, the head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. “Poor people are not prepared and have suffered the consequences.”

The May 2014 meeting at the Vatican between Francis and the United Nations delegation came at a propitious moment. The Vatican had just held a major symposium that brought together scientists, theologians, economists and others to discuss climate change and the social impact of environmental damage.

Partha Dasgupta, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences who helped organize the symposium, said many scientists — having dedicated their careers to raising awareness and trying to influence policy — were perplexed at the seeming lack of broad political response. Mr. Dasgupta, an agnostic, said he hoped that Francis could capture public attention by speaking in the language of faith.

“The pope has moral authority,” said Mr. Dasgupta, a prominent expert on development economics and climate change. “It could change the game in a fundamental way.”