By Philip Pullella
ROME (Reuters) – The Vatican urged U.S. President Donald Trump to listen to “dissenting voices” and reconsider his position on climate change on Thursday, saying the United States risked being supplanted by China as leader in environmental protection.
Pope Francis has made defense of the environment a key plank of his papacy, strongly backing scientific opinion that global warming is caused mostly by human activity.
“This is a challenge for us,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, the pope’s point man for the environmental, immigration and development, when asked about Trump’s executive order dismantling Obama-era climate change regulations and his immigration policies.
“Fortunately, in the United States, there are dissenting voices, people who are against Trump’s positions,” said Turkson, who is from Ghana and was one of the driving forces behind the pope’s 2015 encyclical letter on environmental protection.
“This, for us, is a sign that little by little, other positions and political voices will emerge and so we hope that Trump himself will reconsider some of his decisions,” Turkson told reporters at a breakfast meeting.
The pope and the Vatican, which has diplomatic relations with more than 180 countries and a permanent observer status at the United Nations, have strongly backed the international Paris Agreement in 2015 to curb world temperatures.
“We as a Church, are full of hope that (Trump’s positions) will change,” Turkson said.