Beyond the Kyoto Protocol

Interview with Vatican Observer at U.N. in Geneva

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 21, 2001 ( Violent protests at the recent summit of the Council of Europe held in Goteborg, Sweden, focused world attention on environmental problems, especially the difficulty of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol at the international level.

In this Vatican Radio interview, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, permanent observer of the Vatican at the United Nations in Geneva, talked about the related challenges of ecology and globalization.

–Q: What is the Vatican´s position regarding the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, which in some countries limits the emission of gases causing the greenhouse effect?

–Archbishop Martin: I think that the Vatican´s position must be to keep attention focused on what is at stake: the future of the environment, the future of the next generations.

I think that we must help to recover the harmony between humanity and the universe that God willed to give, at the moment of creation. Treaties can do something but, in the end, what is most important is people´s attitude.

–Q: From your vantage point, as permanent observer of the Vatican at the U.N., what advice would you give states in addressing the question of Kyoto?

–Archbishop Martin: I don´t think any treaty is perfect. The Kyoto Protocol also has pluses and minuses. Basically, not even the preceding U.S. administration of Bill Clinton had taken steps in the question of ratification of the protocol, because of internal political problems.

To a large extent, this is a question that depends on public opinion. What is important is to favor ecological education, because we live in this world that God has given us and that, at times, has been destroyed by avarice and people´s sin.

–Q: In your opinion, what are the channels and language that must be adopted today at the planetary level to increase this sensitivity, this awareness in humanity?

–Archbishop Martin: I believe that, in face of the process of economic globalization, many people are asking themselves the question again about the idea of the common good, beginning with the fact of the real interdependence that exists in the world today.

For example, what changes the climate in an area of the earth, through contamination — suffice it to think of Chernobyl — also has effects throughout the world. What happens to the economy in one part of the world, has an effect in other areas of the planet in questions like employment, and social and economic stability. Interdependence is a reality. A solidarity that corresponds to it must be constructed.

–Q: If, as Vatican spokesman, you had to make an appeal to the next summit of the seven most industrialized countries and Russia, which will be held in Genoa from July 18-21, what would you say?

–Archbishop Martin: I would have a long list of things to say. The first is to go forward with strategies for the struggle against poverty, giving poor countries the possibility to control their own destiny.

In the second place, I would propose progress in the search for a solution to the problem of foreign debt.

A third question I would underline is work. The success of plans for the struggle against poverty can be evaluated to the degree that new jobs are created, which are secure and satisfactory, for the citizens of the world. Thought must be given both to the quantitative and qualitative dimension of work in today´s world.

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