Pope Benedict XVI called for delegates attending this week’s U.N. climate change conference in South Africa to craft a responsible and credible deal to cut greenhouse gases that takes into account the needs of the poor  writes  Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press

An expected 25,000 government officials, lobbyists and scientists will attend the two-week conference that opens Monday in Durban.

The immediate focus is the pending expiration of the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 agreement requiring 37 industrialized countries to slash carbon emissions to 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
Western governments are expected to try to get China and other growing economies to accept legally binding curbs on greenhouse gases, as well. Poor countries want the signatories to accept further reductions in a second commitment period up to at least 2017.

Benedict  has been dubbed the “green pope” for his environmental concerns.

“I hope that all members of the international community agree on a responsible and credible response to this worrisome and complex phenomenon, taking into account the needs of the poorest and future generations” he said during his Sunday blessing.

This is not the first time that he has recommended such action.

In a  2009 U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen Benedict denounced the failure of world leaders to agree to a successor treaty to Kyoto.

He is attempting also to practice what he preaches  in his encyclicals, during foreign trips, speeches to diplomats and in his annual peace message. The  Vatican has installed photovoltaic cells on its main auditorium to convert sunlight into electricity and has joined a reforestation project aimed at offsetting its CO2 emissions.

He has argued that climate change and natural catastrophes threaten people’s rights to life, food, health and ultimately peace

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