Pope Francis as a Global Policy Entrepreneur: Moral Authority and Climate Change
In June 2015, the Vatican released Laudato Si’, the first papal encyclical focused on environmental issues. Then, in a speech during the United Nations’ (UN’s) Seventieth Anniversary Celebration in September 2015, the pope warned against “a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity.” He went on to proclaim that “Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity.” The timings of these developments are significant as both were ahead of the September 2015 adoption of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the December 2015 Climate Conference in Paris. This chapter examines Pope Francis as a policy entrepreneur whose language and timing both influences the framing of the climate change debate and creates moral implications surrounding environmental neglect. Building on work from social movement theory, the chapter provides an analysis on the confluence of Pope Francis’s ethical framework and his policy activism. Pope Francis’s engagement with the UN system is presented as a case study. Overall, the chapter examines the impact of the “Francis Factor” on discourse, public opinion, and global policy formation surrounding climate change.