Vatican Cardinal Michael Czerny calls for a fossil fuel nonproliferation treaty

Cardinal endorsed treaty in presentation on caring for God's creation

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A top Vatican cardinal endorsed calls for a fossil fuels nonproliferation treaty and said Thursday that all new exploration and production of oil must be phased out to prevent global temperatures from rising to a "precipice."

Cardinal Michael Czerny, the Canadian Jesuit who runs the Vatican’s ecology and development office, made the comments while presenting Pope Francis’ annual message about caring for God’s creation.

In the message, Francis repeated his call for an end to industrial extraction practices used in mining, tapping oil and forestry, saying they are destroying forests, polluting rivers and poisoning food sources.

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Pope Francis, above, held his annual message about caring for God’s creation. Cardinal Michael Czerny endorsed a fossil fuels nonproliferation treat.

Pope Francis, above, held his annual message about caring for God’s creation. Cardinal Michael Czerny endorsed a fossil fuels nonproliferation treat. (Stefano Costantino/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Czerny went further, throwing his support behind a grassroots initiative for a treaty to phase out fossil fuels, support economies and workers to diversify away from them, and to improve access to renewable energy sources.

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He said such a treaty was necessary to accompany the 2015 Paris Accords, which seek to limit global warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit this century.

With temperatures already higher than the pre-industrial baseline, many experts say that keeping within the target is only possible with drastic cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

"The planet already is 1.2 degrees hotter, yet new fossil fuel projects every day accelerate our race towards the precipice. Enough is enough," Czerny said. "All new exploration and production of coal, oil, and gas must immediately end, and existing production of fossil fuels must be urgently phased out."

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Francis has made environmental stewardship a priority of his pontificate and recently authorized the Holy See to accede to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Accords.