Watch CBS News

Pope Francis: "Climate change at this moment is a road to death"

Climate change is "a road to death": Pope Francis
Pope Francis calls climate change "a road to death" 01:44

Pope Francis says the climate crisis has "gotten to the point of no return" as the planet continues to see the effects of global warming and world leaders have an even greater responsibility to take action.

"How worried are you about climate change?" CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Norah O'Donnell asked Francis during a historic interview in Vatican City.

"Unfortunately, we have gotten to a point of no return. It's sad, but that's what it is. Global warming is a serious problem," Francis replied. "Climate change at this moment is a road to death."

Francis said wealthy countries reliant on fossil fuels are contributing to the problem. 

"They are the countries that can make the most difference, given their industry and all, aren't they? But it is very difficult to create an awareness of this. They hold a conference, everybody is in agreement, they all sign, and then bye-bye. But we have to be very clear, global warming is alarming," Francis said.

POPE FRANCIS: THE FIRST with Norah O’Donnell 43:45

Climate change is a topic Francis has been vocal about, from denouncing climate change skeptics to urging politicians to make "radical decisions" to protect the planet for future generations. 

In 2015, Francis became the first pontiff to address a joint meeting of Congress in Washington, D.C., where he called on U.S. lawmakers to take "an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature."

Francis was scheduled to speak at the COP28 climate summit in November but had to cancel due to illness. He became the first pope to issue official Vatican documents on climate change, warning in 2023 that the world in which we live "is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point."

On Earth Day this year, Francis wrote a message on social media saying, "Our generation has bequeathed many riches, but we have failed to protect the planet and we are not safeguarding peace. We are called to become artisans and caretakers of our common home, the Earth which is 'falling into ruin.'"

Watch more of the pope's in-depth discussion on climate change and other topics in the CBS prime-time special "Pope Francis: The First," in the video above and streaming on Paramount+.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.