Holy See to Copenhagen: Progress Relies on Planet

Interview With Permanent Observer at U.N.

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By Silvia Gattas

NEW YORK, DEC. 10, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The development of peoples is inseparably linked to the safeguarding of creation, such that one goal must be accompanied by the other, says the Holy See’s representative at the United Nations.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore is representing the Vatican at the climate change talks under way in Denmark. He will arrive to Copenhagen on Monday.

ZENIT spoke with Archbishop Migliore about what can be expected from the talks, and about the true causes of global warming.

ZENIT: Archbishop Migliore, what do you expect from this summit on climate change?
Archbishop Migliore: Work is being done so that at least there will be a maturing of political understanding that prepares the way for a binding agreement that should be reached in a reasonable period of time, and which adopts concrete measures for the reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases, technology sharing, the calendar and the financing of the mitigation and adaptation to climate change. It is hoped that the event in itself and the media coverage will serve to strike up interest, sensitivity and commitment to the cause. In some parts of the world, governments and local public institutions have long experience in the management of their own territory, of the climate, of the man-nature relationship. Projects, organization and timely action must be re-launched above all at this level for the purpose of ensuring development and security, despite the fact that climatic situations change.
ZENIT: The Pope has exhorted countries and the international community to undertake concrete actions, above all thinking of future generations and the poor. How do you think the 192 countries present at this summit will react to this invitation?
Archbishop Migliore: The widespread pessimism of two or three weeks ago seems to be attenuating. The debate of the first two days regarding the negotiations, has allowed one to perceive doors that are opening, for example, on the financial commitments, on the calendar to halt deforestation, on water resources and desertification. The Pope’s invitation goes far beyond the working sessions of Copenhagen: It is addressed both to political leaders as well as to civil society, to the poor and to the local administrations, to all who have an operational, educational or formative responsibility. The challenge of climate change is addressed with serenity, but also in a timely way, beginning precisely at the local level.
ZENIT: Do you think there will be agreement on a climate change treaty?
Archbishop Migliore: The conference is working to achieve this objective, which could be postponed. However, it is equally urgent and indispensable to encourage a culture adapted to the implementation of the measures agreed upon. The limits of greenhouse gas emissions will produce results if we convince ourselves that it is necessary to place limits to rethink the man-nature relationship; to see that allocated funds are put at the service of useful projects, far from corruption; to ensure that houses are able to withstand bad weather and are safe and construction is not solely interested in a profit; and to understand that care of the environment is not only a duty of public administration, but that each one must carry out his own role.

ZENIT: Some organizations, such as the United Nations Population Fund, have used catastrophic forecasts of climate change to request a further reduction of fertility through policies of abortion and contraception. What do you think?
Archbishop Migliore: Global warming depends on indiscriminate and very high consumption, not on the number of inhabitants of the earth. In fact, contamination is particularly intense and devastating precisely in regions of great development, which in general have minimum birth rates. If we wish to find effective solutions to the scourging of the ecological patrimony, we must concentrate our attention on the authentic causes.
ZENIT: A scientific scandal has just broken out, «climategate,» according to which, experts of the Climatic Research Unit of the British University of East Anglia manipulated data to show temperatures are increasingly higher and that the cause is anthropic. Many other scientists have presented theories saying climate changes for natural reasons and the influence of the human being is limited and relative. What do you think?
Archbishop Migliore: The question of the relation between truth and politics is as old as mankind. At present we are witnessing, in some cases, a worrying divergence between the two orders of human learning and acting and for this reason it is perhaps difficult to agree on reasonable times and to make common and effective decisions to resolve the problems of humanity.
ZENIT: Many emerging countries, such as Brazil, India and South Africa, refuse to accept binding legislation on greenhouse gas emissions, as they believe that this measure would limit their development, increasing the costs of energy and transport. How do you respond to this need for development?
Archbishop Migliore: We should be guided by the principles of common responsibility, although differentiated, and equality. But above all we must take into account the inseparable relationship — and mutual — between safeguarding creation and development. One is not achieved without the other; hence, neither can be sacrificed.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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