Integral ecology

Key days in Glasgow as 'green' initiatives grow in Spain

While progress at the Glasgow Climate Summit has been timid so far, the streets of the Scottish city have been occupied by demonstrators demanding "climate justice". In Spain, diocesan delegations for the care of Creation, such as Toledo, Granada or Ourense, are promoting ecological projects.

Rafael Miner-November 7, 2021-Reading time: 6 minutes
gerona cathedral

Thousands of protesters took to the streets yesterday in Glasgow, where the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) is taking place, and other cities in Britain and around the world, to demand action on climate change in the context of the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice.

The marches come after numerous young environmental activists, including Greta Thunberg, the 18-year-old Swedish teenager, and Vanessa Nakate, walked through Glasgow on Friday to protest against investment in fossil fuels and the failure to address the climate crisis. Thunberg called COP26 "two weeks of 'blah, blah, blah' by politicians," adding that "this Summit is just like the previous ones and will get us nowhere..."

However, U.S. President Joe Biden's climate change envoy, John Kerry, noted that there is "a greater sense of urgency and focus" than ever at the COP26 talks, although he acknowledged being "one of those frustrated" by the pace of climate action.

The Summit negotiations are expected to conclude on Friday, November 12, with the adoption of some measures, including the goal of limiting the increase in the planet's global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. One of the areas in which progress is beginning to be seen are plans to halt and reverse deforestation. Forests are vital in capturing CO2 emissions, experts say.

Heating

The first COP was held in Berlin in 1995 and the last, in 2019, was in Madrid. Before that, in 2015, the Paris agreement was adopted, which obliges all countries that join the pact to undertake cuts in their gas emissions. The main objective is that the increase in the average temperature of the planet does not exceed two degrees Celsius, and as far as possible, 1.5 degrees.

The world is now at 1.1 degrees warming, according to experts advising the United Nations, who point out that states are not in line to meet the Paris targets, and that greenhouse gas cuts are insufficient.

Pope's message

A few days ago, in a message addressed to COP26 President Alok Sharma, read by the Cardinal Secretary of State of the Holy See, Pietro Parolin, before the representatives of more than 200 countries, Pope Francis stressed the need for "urgent, courageous and responsible action" if the goals written in the Paris Agreement are to be achieved in a coordinated and responsible manner: 'They are ambitious, but they cannot be delayed,' he said.

"There are too many human faces suffering from this climate crisis: in addition to its increasingly frequent and intense impacts on the daily lives of many people, especially the most vulnerable populations, we realize that it has also become a crisis of children's rights and that, in the near future, environmental migrants will outnumber conflict refugees."

In his message, the Holy Father asks whether at COP26 "there really is the political will" to allocate, with honesty and responsibility, more financial and technological resources to mitigate the negative effects of climate change, as well as to help the poorest and most vulnerable populations, who suffer the most. Even more so when the world continues to face the ravages of a pandemic that has been ravaging humanity for almost two years.  

"Participate in the challenge."

"The pandemic teaches us that we have no alternatives: we can only overcome it if we all participate in this challenge," the Pope said, recalling that, just as the post-pandemic must be faced together, "following the example of the mistakes made in the past," it is possible to do the same to counter the global crisis of climate change. It is necessary to work with a "deep and solidary collaboration among all the peoples of the world", the Pope stressed to the Summit.

Francis assures that "this is an epochal change, a challenge of civilization for which the commitment of all is necessary and, in particular, of the countries with the greatest capacities, which must take a leading role in the field of climate finance, the decarbonization of the economic system and of people's lives, the promotion of a circular economy and support for the most vulnerable countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change and respond to the losses and damages caused by this phenomenon."

Assistance from top scientists

Is it alarmist to speak of 'an unprecedented ecological crisis', as the Vatican, including Pope Francis himself, points out? In May of this year, on the occasion of Laudato Si' Week, six years after the encyclical was published, Omnes interviewed Salesian Father Johstrom Issac Kureethadam, director of the Office of Ecology and Creation of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development at the Holy See.

Fr. Kureethadam stressed that "unfortunately, there are those who see climate change as a "conspiracy" or think that it is alarmist to talk about the crisis of our common home. This is a very unfortunate topic. Climate science has grown significantly in recent decades, and there is a unanimous consensus among the scientific community that the current ecological crisis in the case of climate and biodiversity crises are due to human activities. In other words, they are anthropogenic in origin. I myself can say this as an academic. In drafting Laudato Si ', Pope Francis was assisted by some of the world's best scientists, including members of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences."

Reforestation in Grenada

In Spain, an increasing number of initiatives are being implemented by dioceses, often in collaboration with administrative and/or civil entities.

Among others, by way of example, the agreement signed between the Archbishop of Granada, Mons. Plant for the Planetfor the reforestation of part of the Sacromonte Abbey Mount in Granada, the creation of the diocesan delegation for the reforestation of the Sacromonte Abbey Mount in Granada, the creation of the diocesan delegation of the Creation Care in Toledo, or the initiative in Ourense to change the contracts of the energy supplied to an electrical energy of 100 % renewable origin with the installation of solar panels in some church buildings.

In the case of Granada, the objective of reforestation is focused on generating and protecting the diversity and beauty of its forests in the Abadía area. This action will consist of planting 16,500 trees (pines, holm oaks, junipers and wild olive trees) in an area of 26.43 hectares.

During the signing of the agreement, the Archbishop of Granada expressed his satisfaction as this initiative will completely revive the Abbey complex, as well as responding to Pope Francis' current concern for climate change and environmental conservation. The project has been carried out following the guidelines of the forestry services of the Junta de Andalucía, has been designed by engineers of the Foundation Plant for the Planetand was supervised by engineers from the Sacromonte Abbey FoundationThe project is being managed by the company in charge of managing the recovery of the complex.

Other objectives of this reforestation include the compensation of CO2 emissions and the collaboration to generate a better quality environment for Granada from its peripheral surroundings. This action will have very positive effects in the fight against erosion in some parts of Monte de la Abadía, whose soil has lost a lot of quality in the last decades.

Road to Guadalupe

On the other hand, in Toledo, the diocesan delegation for the Care of Creation has offered materials to celebrate the Time of Creationproposed by Pope Francis. Javier Gómez Elvira, diocesan delegate for the Care of Creation, explained that it is "a time in which the Pope encourages us to celebrate in order to continue growing in the awareness that we all live in a common home as members of a single family". Likewise, Gómez Elvira pointed out that "the Pope in the encyclical Laudato si' urges us to unite the entire human family in the search for sustainable and integral development, because things can change".

The initiative, inaugurated in the midst of the pandemic by the Archbishop of Toledo, Monsignor Francisco Cerro, accompanied by Gómez-Elvira, was the road to Guadalupethrough the Montes de Toledo. They started at the Bridge of San Martin de Toledo and began with the pilgrims a short tour of the first stretch of the road.

This pilgrimage, organized by the pastoral delegation for the Creation CareThe course, which is completed in 16 stages along the course to complete the 196 km of the route up to Guadalupe. The objective is to travel along it, study its itinerary, verify its viability, document and historically consolidate its layout, and finally describe the landscape and the ecosystems and natural spaces it crosses. "The care of creation, the care of the common home, is revealed as a fundamental attitude of the Christian being", affirms the Archbishop of Toledo.

Ourense, pioneer in green energy

Leonardo Lemos, as a pioneer in green energy. In the line of walking "towards another more ecological way of life", the diocese takes conscience so that the Church tries to produce "an energy as ethical as possible".. "We have chosen to make a framework agreement to introduce it in different institutions of the diocese, through a company from Ourense,SolGaleoThe Church's activities must be completely renewable, which is called green energy"., explains the delegate of Economy, Raúl Alfonso.

The agreement has already made it possible to switch to green energy in 50 buildings, centers and facilities in the diocese, and the goal is to gradually incorporate all the remaining parishes.

The diocese has opted for photovoltaic energy through solar panels for its buildings. Germán Rodríguez-Saá, Founder and President of SolGaleoThe company points out that Spain "is a country with many wind and solar resources", but it is only relatively recently that it has been going down the road of renewable energies, as a comparison with other European countries shows".

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