Turning green – Vatican takes step to become world’s 1st carbon neutral sovereignty
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) – The Vatican, in responding to its own call that mankind become a more aware and more active caretaker of the earth, will take a step to lift its carbon footprint and become the first entirely carbon neutral sovereign state in the world.
In a brief July 5 ceremony here, the Vatican declared that it had accepted a proposal to create a new Vatican climate forest in Europe that will offset all of the Vatican City State’s carbon dioxide omissions for this year.
“Environmental protection,” said Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, “is not a political issue.”
“It is not enough to have a simple commitment for a few people. Instead it is necessary, as underlined by his holiness, to have the dawn of a new culture, of new attitudes and a new mode of living that makes man aware of his place a caretaker of the earth.”
Planktos/KlimaFa, a climate ecorestoration company, made the donation of forestland in Hungary’s Bukk National Park to create the new Vatican climate forest.
“I am honored to receive this donation,” Cardinal Poupard said. “In this way, the Vatican will do its small part in contributing to the elimination of polluting emissions from carbon dioxide which is threatening the survival of the planet.”
A “carbon footprint” is a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted through the combustion of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is recognized as a greenhouse gas, of which increasing levels in the atmosphere are linked to global warming and climate change. As plant life gives off oxygen, the planting of forests is seen as a way of mitigating the environmental impact of the consumption of natural resources.
"As the holy father, Pope Benedict XVI, had recently stated, the international community needs to respect and encourage a ‘green culture,’ characterized by ethical values,” Cardinal Poupard said.
“The Book of Genesis tells us of a beginning in which God placed man as guardian over the earth to make it fruitful. When man forgets that he is a faithful servant of this earth, it becomes a desert that threatens the survival of all creation,” he added.
"The Holy See's increasingly creative environmental leadership is both insightful and profound,” said Russ George, Planktos chief executive officer and KlimaFa managing director. “Not only is the Vatican steadily reducing its carbon footprint with energy efficiency and solar power, its choice of new mixed growth forests to offset the balance of its emissions shows a deep commitment to planetary stewardship as well. It eloquently makes the point that ecorestoration is a fitting climate change solution for a culture of life."
"We believe this climate forest initiative clearly reflects the Vatican's deep commitment to both environmental healing and the welfare of the poor,” said David Gazdag, KlimaFa's managing director. “Besides their local ecological and global climatic benefits, these projects offer many rewarding new eco-forestry jobs to struggling rural communities and increasing eco-tourism employment opportunities as these beautiful woodlands mature." The dimensions of the new Vatican climate forest will be determined by the Vatican’s 2007 energy usage and the success of its current emission reduction efforts.
Planktos/KlimaFa also announced that it has committed to work with the Vatican and the Pontifical Council of Culture to develop methods to calculate the carbon emissions of individual Catholic churches and offer ecorestoration options to turn their carbon footprints green. The announcement came less than two months after the Vatican told member countries of the United Nations that the world community must address the threat posed by global warming and build more sustainable economies or face the continued drift toward tensions, conflicts and a crisis in the very existence of peoples.
In an May 10 statement to the U.N. Economic and Social Council’s Commission on Sustainable Development on “Turning Political Commitments into Action, Working together in Partnership,” Archbishop Celestino Migliore, apostolic nuncio of the Holy See’s permanent mission to the U.N., stressed that the scientific evidence for global warming and mankind’s role in the increase of greenhouse gasses “becomes ever more unimpeachable” and its effects already impacting the world community.
“The consequences of climate change are being felt not only in the environment, but in the entire socio-economic system, Archbishop Migliore said, noting that “such activity has a profound relevance, not just for the environment, but in ethical, economic, social and political terms as well.”
Global warming, he said, “will impact first and foremost the poorest and weakest who, even if they are among the least responsible for global warming, are the most vulnerable because they have limited resources or live in areas at greater risk.”
The issues surrounding climate change are far-reaching, the Vatican nuncio said, pointing to the connection between it and the drive to acquire and consume energy and water resources and protecting human health and the environment. ...
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