Pope urges climate change action

 

Pope Benedict used his traditional New Year address today to call on people to change their lifestyles to save the planet, saying environmental responsibility was essential for global peace.

Recalling that world leaders had gathered in Copenhagen last month for the UN climate conference, the pope said action at a personal and community level was just as important to safeguard the environment.

"Nevertheless, in this moment, I would like to underline the importance of the choices of individuals, families and local administrations in preserving the environment," the pope told the thousands of faithful gathered in St Peter's Square in the Vatican.

"An objective shared by all, an indispensable condition for peace, is that of overseeing the earth's natural resources with justice and wisdom."

The pope, who had a scare last week when a woman knocked him down during Christmas Eve mass, also said "eco logical responsibility" should be taught as part of the education syllabus.

The pope and his predecessor John Paul have put the Vatican firmly on an environmentalist footing.

Last month, in a message sent to heads of state and international organisations, the pope called on rich nations to acknowledge responsibility for the environmental crisis and shed consumerism.