Pope Francis offered up a forceful call to action to protect the environment on Friday during an address delivered to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The pontiff declared that “any harm done to the environment therefore is harm to humanity”—remarks made while speaking through a translator. Francis also dove directly into the politics of climate change, expressing optimism that a strong agreement will be reached later this year at U.N. climate talks set to be held in Paris, a summit widely viewed by environmentalists and world leaders as a make-it-or-break-it moment in the fight against global warming.
“I am similarly confident that the Paris conference on climatic change will secure fundamental and effective agreements. Solemn commitments, however, are not enough, even though they are a necessary step towards solutions,” the pontiff warned.
The pontiff’s wide-ranging speech in New York hit on an array of political topics, including human-trafficking, the drug trade, the conflict in Syria, and the Iran nuclear deal.
Throughout his speech, Francis’s words sought to humanize political issues that have often become caught up in highly contentious political debate. “In wars and conflicts, there are individual persons, our brothers and sisters, men and women, young and old, boys and girls who weep, suffer, and die,” Francis said. “Human beings who are easily discarded when our only response is to draw up lists of problems, strategies, and disagreements.”