Church on Climate
Holy See Statement on
"All Have a Responsibility to
Protect the Environment"
NEW YORK, SEPT. 25, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a statement
from Monsignor Pietro Parolin, undersecretary for relations with states
in the Vatican Secretariat of State, given Monday during an event on
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Statement by Monsignor Pietro Parolin
Undersecretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States
62nd session of the U.N. General Assembly
High-level event on climate change titled "The Future Is
in Our Hands: Addressing the Leadership Challenge of Climate Change"
New York, Sept. 24, 2007
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express some
considerations of the Holy See in light of what we have heard today
from the preceding distinguished speakers.
Climate change is a serious concern and an inescapable
responsibility for scientists and other experts, political and
governmental leaders, local administrators and international
organizations, as well as every sector of human society and each human
My delegation wishes to stress the underlying moral
imperative that all, without exception, have a grave responsibility to
protect the environment.
Beyond the various reactions to and interpretations of the
reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the
best scientific assessments available have established a link between
human activity and climate change.
However, the results of these scientific assessments, and
the remaining uncertainties, should neither be exaggerated nor
minimized in the name of politics, ideologies or self-interest. Rather
they now need to be studied closely in order to give a sound basis for
raising awareness and making effective policy decisions.
In recent times, it has been unsettling to note how some
commentators have said that we should actually exploit our world to the
full, with little or no heed to the consequences, using a worldview
supposedly based on faith. We strongly believe that this is a
fundamentally reckless approach.
At the other extreme, there are those who hold up the
earth as the only good, and would characterize humanity as an
irredeemable threat to the earth, whose population and activity need to
be controlled by various drastic means. We strongly believe that such
assertions would place human beings and their needs at the service of
an inhuman ecology.
I have highlighted these two extreme positions to make my
point, but similar, though less extreme attitudes, would also clearly
impede any sound global attempts to promote mitigation, adaptation,
resilience and the safeguarding of our common future.
Since no country alone can solve the problems related to
our common environment, we need to overcome self-interest through
collective action. On the part of the international community, this
presupposes the adoption of a coordinated, effective and prompt
international political strategy capable of responding to such a
It would identify ways and means of mitigation and
adaptation that are economically accessible to most, enhance
sustainable development and foster a healthy environment.
The economic aspect of such ways and means should be
seriously taken into account, considering that poor nations and sectors
of society are particularly vulnerable to the adverse consequences of
climate change, due to lesser resources and capacity to mitigate their
effects and adapt to altered surroundings.
It is foreseeable that programs of mitigation and
adaptation would meet a series of barriers and obstacles, not so much
of a technological nature, but more so of a social nature, such as
consumer behavior and preferences, and of a political nature, like
We must look at education, especially among the young, to
change inbred, selfish attitudes toward consumption and exploitation of
natural resources. Likewise, government policies giving economic
incentives and financial breaks for more environmentally friendly
technologies will give the private sector the positive signal they need
to program their product development in such direction.
For instance, present-day research into energy mixes and
improving energy efficiency would be made more attractive if
accompanied by public funding and other financial incentives.
We often hear in the halls of the United Nations of “the
responsibility to protect." The Holy See believes that applies also in
the context of climate change. States have a shared “responsibility to
protect” the world’s climate through mitigation/adaptation, and above
all a shared “responsibility to protect” our planet and ensure that
present and future generations be able to live in a healthy and safe
The pace of achieving and codifying a new international
consensus on climate change is not always matched by an equally
expeditious and effective pace of implementation of such agreements.
States are free to adopt international conventions and
treaties, but unless our words are matched with effective action and
accountability, we would do little to avert a bleak future and may find
ourselves gathering again not too long from now to lament another
We sincerely hope that states will seize the opportunity
that will be presented to them shortly at the next Conference on the
Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bali.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.