International Symposium
on Climate Change and World Development

(Rome, Wednesday 27th to Friday 29th May 2015.)

Press Brief

The impacts of climate change are intensifying across the world. Credible scientific analysis coupled with a rising tide of evidence and the paleo-climatic record underline that humanity is now on a dangerous path which, in the absence of strong action, will lead to the destabilisation of the climate with devastating consequences for our civilisation. Concerted international action is essential to avert the risks of dangerous climate change but the world community has so far failed to take effective action and time is running out.

His Holiness Pope Francis has taken a strong moral position, underlining the interrelationships of human society and natural ecology and the crucial role of climate change in relation to justice and peace and the linkages between care for creation, integral human development and concern for the poor.


The 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, “COP 21”, will be held in Paris in December 2015 with the purpose to reach a strong Climate Agreement on action to avert the risks of dangerous climate change by undertaking substantial cuts in carbon emissions and other measures.

Denial and delay have raised the costs of climate action. COP 21 in Paris will be crucial in determining whether the world community can find the will to agree and to act to master the truly global challenge of climate change in the vital interests of humanity. However, based on the assessment of present and anticipated commitments, (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions), it is likely that the emission cuts presented in Paris will not be sufficient to limit the rise in global mean temperature to below the target of 2°C.

The emerging climate crisis is already generating devastating impacts on human lives, especially of the poor and disadvantaged by degrading the land, the ecosystems, the water and food security on which the poor depend. And, by intensifying competition for fragile resources and provoking the movement of refugees, it is aggravating threats to world peace and to the prospects for succeeding generations.

The impacts we see today across the world are the consequence of a rise of “only” 0.8°C since pre-industrial times. We are right to be concerned about the consequences of a rise of even 2°C, the international target, or of 5°C if we continue on the present business-as-usual path! The risks are intensified by the fact that climate change will not be a process of gradual warming as widely assumed. The gravest risk is that the non-linear behaviour of the many interconnected systems which affect the climate will lead to sudden shocks and irreversible changes, beyond human influence. We are gambling with the future of humanity.

Programme and Results

The Rome Symposium will address the underlying economic and social drivers of climate change within the wider framework of equitable and inclusive world development. It will clarify not only future risks and challenges but will underline the opportunities and benefits which can be gained by reorienting the trajectory of progress on to a low-carbon, resource-efficient and equitable path. It will demonstrate that stability, development and peace for all countries, rich and poor, depend in fact on rapid action to preserve a stable climate and a viable environment.

The Symposium will produce a Statement challenging leaders in government, the economy and civil society to face up to the realities and threats of climate change, to implement existing climate commitments, to commit to a strong climate agreement in Paris in December 2015, to initiate early action and to adopt a longer-term strategy beyond Paris to move the trajectory of human progress on to a sustainable path.