Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
November 16, 2009
Church pleads for strong focus on climate change
Letter reaffirms John Paul's call for 'ecological conversion'
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
The United Nations must keep a strong focus on the needs of developing countries, environmental protection and the threat of climate change, says a leading Church official.
Archbishop Celestino Migliore supported the UN's efforts to draft a new global energy strategy.
That strategy must aim at "ensuring security, protecting health and the environment, and establishing concrete commitments to address the problems of climate change," Migliore said.
In a statement to the UN General Assembly Nov. 2, Migliore, the Vatican ambassador to the UN, said promoting renewable energy is "extremely important" for the eradication of poverty.
"Availability of and access to energy has a profound impact on health, education, nutrition and income opportunities," he said.
The ambassador's statement to the UN was one of several Church statements related to energy development and climate change as the Dec. 7-18 UN Summit for Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, draws near. (See stories on Page 15).
NEW ENERGY SOURCES
Migliore said international cooperation in finding new sources of energy should be oriented toward poverty alleviation and economic and financial development.
He reminded the assembly that the costly start-up expenses of new technologies present a big obstacle for poorer countries. He called for the involvement of local institutions in implementing projects.
Local groups, he said, know the communities they serve. They can identify which type of energy is suitable and which forms of marketing and financing are most appropriate.
Discussions of new and renewable sources of energy should always keep in mind the long-term impact of actions on people and the environment, the archbishop said.
Actions taken without regard to the environment may yield short-term economic growth, but could come at a great price to developing countries and future generations, he noted.
"We should not burden future generations with our overstated energy consumption," said Migliore, going on to stress the urgency of convincing people to change their lifestyles.
In another Church statement, Ireland's Catholic bishops declared that global climate change is "one of the most critical issues of our time."
How people respond to it will "have consequences for the future of every person and every form of life," they said in a statement released Nov. 10.
In their statement, Cry of the Earth, the bishops acknowledged that not all scientists believe climate change is caused by human activity.
But they said their statement "draws on the analysis of the great majority of climate change scientists who believe such a link exists," including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Ireland's Environmental Protection Agency.
Because of the "overwhelming consensus among credible national and international organizations working in this area," the pastoral said, there is a moral responsibility to act now to risk serious harm posed by some human activities that could lead to climate change.
The bishops said the earth's "systems of life are interdependent and finely balanced.
"Small changes in one part of the planet's rhythms and systems can have significant, if not dramatic, consequences for the whole of the earth and its creatures."
Looking at IPCC reports, the pastoral noted that the average temperature of the world is 0.74 degrees Celsius higher than it was 100 years ago; the last 50 years have been the warmest in the last 1,300 years in the northern half of the planet.
"Even though the winter of 2008-2009 was the coldest for 30 years, our winters are much milder than they were 50 years ago," the bishops said.
The bishops repeated Pope John Paul II's 1990 call for an "ecological conversion."
They outlined practical actions that individuals and parishes can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including conducting environmental audits, and making greater use of renewable energy instead of fossil fuels.
The bishops also posted the document and two video interviews on their website, www.catholicbishops.ie.
The Canadian bishops' latest major statement on the environment came in March 2008 when they called on Canadians to free themselves from a lifestyle of "overconsumption and waste."
A year earlier, the bishops asked the federal government to live up to its commitment made in the Kyoto Accord.
In January of this year, St. Paul Bishop Luc Bouchard issued a pastoral letter critical of the development of the Athabasca tarsands in his diocese.
"The proposed future development of the oilsands constitutes a serious moral problem," he said.
In his letter, Bouchard listed five areas of concern raised by oilsands development:
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