The Vatican is quickly moving to become the first “carbon neutral state” with its recent plans to switch the Paul VI audience hall to solar power and the initiative to plant a forest in Europe it announced yesterday.
The Holy See says that it will create a forest that will offset all of its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for the year, according to the eco-restoration company Planktos that is working to help the Holy See achieve what it calls a "historic goal."
"The Holy See's increasingly creative environmental leadership is both insightful and profound," said Russ George, CEO of Planktos Corp. and managing director of its Hungarian forest subsidiary, KlimaFa, in a news release on Thursday.
In recognition of its leadership, the KlimaFa is donating the resources to help the Vatican plant the forest and become the "first carbon neutral sovereign state" in the world.
According to the press release from Planktos, the new Vatican Climate Forest will be created in Hungary's Bükk National Park. Its dimensions will be determined by the Vatican's 2007 energy usage and the success of its current emission reduction efforts.
"We believe this climate forest initiative clearly reflects the Vatican's deep commitment to both environmental healing and the welfare of the poor," said David Gazdag, KlimaFa's managing director in Budapest.
"Besides their local ecological and global climatic benefits, these projects offer many rewarding new eco-forestry jobs to struggling rural communities and increasing eco-tourism employment opportunities as these beautiful woodlands mature," he stated.
George also noted that, “Not only is the Vatican steadily reducing its carbon footprint with energy efficiency and solar power, its choice of new mixed growth forests to offset the balance of its emissions shows a deep commitment to planetary stewardship as well. It eloquently makes the point that eco-restoration is a fitting climate change solution for a culture of life."
In a July 5th ceremony announcing the forest plans, Cardinal Paul Poupard, the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture said, "As the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, had recently stated, the international community needs to respect and encourage a 'Green
Culture,' characterized by ethical values.”
The Pope also gave a biblical reflection on caring for the environment saying, “The Book of Genesis tells us of a beginning in which God placed man as guardian over the earth to make it fruitful. When man forgets that he is a faithful servant of this earth, it becomes a desert that threatens the survival of all creation.”
However, not everyone is satisfied with the Vatican’s plans to become “more green.” Mr. Iain Murray, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told Cybercast News Service he doubted the new program would go far enough to satisfy what he called "the environmental ultras," who had recently decided "that trees don't cut it when you're offsetting."
"To the Church of Green, the Vatican will remain heretical," Murray added.