This is not the first time I’ve blogged about the Pope, and I’m nervous about bigging him up too much given my views on family planning and women’s rights. But as a growing and already hugely inspirational presence in our environmental world, there’s so much to admire about what this man is saying and doing.

For one thing, he seems to think and act like a campaigning NGO – which I suppose he is, in an evangelistic kind of way. Here’s his timetable over the next few months:

1. Regular warm-ups
The Pope keeps on getting ‘the environment’ and ‘climate change’ into his speeches and declarations. And pretty impactfully: “If we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us. Never forget this.”

2. End April
A conference in the Vatican on “the moral dimensions of climate change and sustainable development” was jointly organised by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the UN. And he and Ban Ki-moon certainly told it as it is:

“Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity. In this core moral space, the world’s religions play a very vital role.”

3. June/July
A widely-trailed papal Encyclical is to be issued, addressed to all the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, aimed specifically at influencing the Climate Conference in Paris at the end of the year. As Ban Ki-moon put it in his speech to the Conference in April:

“The Encyclical will convey to the world that protecting our environment is an urgent moral imperative and a sacred duty for all people of faith and people of conscience.”

4. A major address at the UN General Assembly in September this year, when he will no doubt further ramp up the rhetoric.

You’ve gotta love it!

And you know it’s for real because the enemy (in this case the forces of contrariandenialist evil) has suddenly realised just how big a deal a campaigning Pope might be – even in the US of A. The Heartland Institute, one of the most persistent of Big Oil-sponsored “think-tanks”, still deep into totally mendacious climate change denialism, sent a delegation to Rome at the end of April to protest at the central thesis of the joint Vatican/UN Conference.

We must wait and see what will be in the Encyclical – but the signals are good. And that has to be celebrated, whatever misgivings one may have about other backward-looking, intolerant tendencies in the Roman Catholic Church.