environment conference


Catholic NGOs Gather for Summit on Climate Change

“People and Planet First” Conference to Be Held in Rome This Week

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“People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course” is the theme chosen for the Conference being held this Thursday and Friday at the Augustinianum in Rome, organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and CIDSE, an international network of 17 Catholic NGOs for development based primarily in Europe and the United States.

Among those in the presentation of the conference at the Holy See Press Office was Under-Secretary of the aforementioned dicastery, Flaminia Giovanelli; writer and journalist Naomi Klein; Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, co-ordinator of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and CIDSE’s Secretary General Bernd Nilles.

Cardinall Peter Turkson’s presence was expected but, due to the fact he is traveling, Mrs. Giovanelli delivered an address in his name. She reminded those present that the central issue that the Holy Father is concerned with in the encyclical is the “kind of world we want to leave those that succeed us, the children who are growing up? It cannot be simply an environment unable to sustain life, or a place of interminable conflicts between peoples,” she said.

She also noted that the conference’s program focuses on climate change. Referring again to the Pope’s recent encyclical, she said that “he recognizes a very solid scientific consensus on the strong warming of the climatic system.” This is primarily the result of human activity, namely, the intense and growing use of fossil fuels, she added. In general, “climate change is a global problem with a spectrum of grave consequences: environmental, social, economic and political,” she noted.

Giovanelli also said that the CIP21 Conference on climate change, which will take place in Paris from November 30 to December 11, will be crucial in the identification of strong solutions for climate change “accompanied by the gradual elaboration and acceptance of binding commitments.” Finally, she stressed that the political dimension must re-establish democratic control over the economy and finance, that is, on the basic options chosen by human societies.

For his part, Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-President of the inter-governmental panel on climate change, explained the encyclical Laudato Si’ in seven points.

  1. The encyclical indicates climate change, poverty and inequality as the ethical key of  21st century changes. Therefore, it is inappropriate to reduce the encyclical to ‘environmentalism’ or to a ‘climatic encyclical.’

  2. The encyclical refers to the atmosphere as the common property of humanity, a common good of all and for all.

  3. Pope Francis argues that poverty and climate change can only be resolved jointly, and if there is failure to resolve one of these two points, there will be failure to resolve the other as well.

  4. A global effort of the upper and middle classes is essential to stop using immediately products with gases that harm the atmosphere, given that climate change will have effects that will harm the poor primarily and will exacerbate inequality in the future.

  5. To tax the use of coal to finance sustainable development.

  6. The encyclical suggests that the solution to this global crisis can only be found in international cooperation that involves nations, States, local entities, families and all individual levels.

  7. The encyclical makes an urgent appeal to dialogue between science, politics, economy and religion.

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Rocío Lancho García

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