By Chris Arsenault
ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - It wasn't an invitation she expected, but Canadian environmentalist Naomi Klein - a self-styled secular Jewish feminist - was happy to address Vatican officials on Wednesday after Pope Francis enlisted her for a campaign against climate change.
Pope Francis, spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, published a 192-page encyclical last month warning of future "unprecedented destruction" due to global warming and urging policymakers to tackle the challenge head-on.
Klein, whose bestselling books include "This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate", argues that the global economy needs to be fundamentally changed, rather than just tweeked, to slow the warming of planet Earth.
"We can save ourselves, but only if we let go of the myth of dominance and mastery and learn to work with nature," Klein told an environmental conference with Catholic officials in Vatican City.
She slammed "economic experts" who place "outsized value on protecting corporate profits and economic growth" rather than the poor, who she said will be most affected by climate change.
Klein urged financiers to divest from fossil fuel companies and made the case for supporting local agriculture and community-run renewable energy projects.
Governments need to implement policies to reach 100 percent renewable energy in 2-3 decades, rather than by the end of the century, she said.
It is possible to keep global temperature rises below 1.5 degrees celsius - if climate change becomes a top collective priority - Klein said.
If nothing changes and temperatures rise by 4 degrees, the results will be catastrophic, she said.
Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson echoed those concerns. "The Pope notes that climate is a common good, belonging to all," Turkson said.
"The same mindset which stands in the way of making radical decisions to reverse the trend of global warming also stands in the way of achieving the goal of eliminating poverty."
Those calls could be especially important for fostering change in the United States, where some politicians use the Bible as cover for their opposition to action to slow global warming, Klein said.
(Reporting By Chris Arsenault, editing by Tim Pearce. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)