VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday called for environmental policies to take account of the needs of poorer countries, as the UN-sponsored global climate change conference continued in Indonesia.
He also condemned the destructive effects of military spending in his annual message ahead of World Peace Day on January 1.
"Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man," said the pope in his message.
"Rather, it means not selfishly considering nature to be at the complete disposal of our own interests, for future generations also have the right to reap its benefits and to exhibit towards nature the same responsible freedom that we claim for ourselves.
"Nor must we overlook the poor, who are excluded in many cases from the goods of creation destined for all.
The pope's message echoed that of last year when he issued a strong warning on the environmental impact of the global race for energy supplies, saying it was a threat to world peace.
"If the protection of the environment involves costs, they should be justly distributed, taking due account of the different levels of development of various countries and the need for solidarity with future generations," he added.
Noting the growing numbers of conflicts across the world, the pope denounced the destructive effect of the international arms trade.
"(O)ne must acknowledge with regret the growing number of states engaged in the arms race: even some developing nations allot a significant portion of their scant domestic product to the purchase of weapons," he said.
He criticised both the industrially developed countries who profited from the arms trade; and the rulers of poorer countries who sought to tighten their grip on power by "acquiring ever more sophisticated weaponry."
He added: "In difficult times such as these, it is truly necessary for all persons of good will to come together to reach concrete agreements aimed at an effective demilitarization, especially in the area of nuclear arms."