> Posted by Janet Redman, Director, Climate Policy Program, Institute for Policy Studies

We interrupt our normal financial inclusion blogging to bring you the most important messages from Pope Francis’ pathbreaking statement on climate change and the poor. The following post was originally published on the Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) site. 

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Pope Francis just released an “encyclical,” a letter meant to serve as a guide to understanding our personal relationship to some of the most complex issues of the day through religious doctrine.

This particular encyclical is on climate change and is addressed not just to the globe’s 1.2 billion Catholics, but to everyone of any — or no — faith. In it, Pope Francis boldly challenges us all to take an honest look inside our hearts and question the foundations of a society that’s created wealth for some at the expense of others and “our common home”— the planet earth.

Here are five key quotes from the encyclical that will shake up the global climate debate.

1. Climate change and inequality are inextricably linked.

“We have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” 

It’s not hard to see how climate change hits people living in poverty first and worst, and inevitably widens the gulf between rich and poor. After extreme weather washes away their homes or drought kills their crops, those living in poverty have a harder time bouncing back than those with savings accounts and sturdier houses.

But what’s really radical is how the Pope names inequality itself as an impediment to solving a looming planetary and human rights crisis. The encyclical calls out “masters of power and money” to stop masking the symptoms and address climate change in service of the common good.

2. The global economy must protect the Earth, our common home.

“The economy accepts every advance in technology with a view to profit, without concern for its potentially negative impact on human beings.”

Today’s global economy profits at the environment’s expense. And the pursuit of growth is fueling environmental degradation, natural disasters, and financial crises. Pope Francis envisions a people-and-planet-first economy more in harmony with the environment that would prevent imbalances of wealth and power and foster peace among nations.

To read the rest of this post, visit the FPIF site.

For resources on base of the pyramid financial services to support environmental sustainability and climate change adaptation, check out the publications listed below, and use this blog’s search function to find posts written on the subject.

Microfinance and Climate Change: Threats and Opportunities“; Paul Rippey; CGAP Focus Note

Assessing the Role of Microfinance in Fostering Adaptation to Climate Change“; Shardul Agrawala & Maelis Carraro; OECD Environmental Working Paper

Climate Change and Microfinance“; Asif Dowla; Grameen Foundation Publication