Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Wallets, Votes: Two Tools for Environmental Change

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Wallets, Votes: Two Tools for Environmental Change

Article excerpt

PISTOIA, ITALY * Christian environmentalists meeting in Pistoia, central Italy, June 27-28 called for an end to mass consumption and a return to family values.

Greenaccord, an Italian environmental group, organized the conference because, it said, the global economic crisis presents an opportunity for redressing some of the imbalances in society.

"The economic crisis should be a moment for people to reflect on how they are living their lives and the choices that they make," said Alfonso Cauteruccio, secretary-general of Greenaccord. "The crisis has helped to reduce mass consumption and reinforced the importance of family ties."

Bishop Mansueto Bianchi of Pistoia read out a message from Pope Benedict XVI pledging his support for the conference and underscoring the need for "better rapport between man and universe."

"The church has a strong role to play in helping to reduce the speed of modern life," Bianchi said. "There are three aspects to this: to educate and inform, to stimulate individual consciences, and to persuade governments to raise awareness of the problem."

Cauteruccio said that over the past 20 years the pace of life has increased to intolerable levels as the pressure for industrial production and economic growth has mounted. One of the problems with encouraging people to cut consumption is the inherently short-term outlook of governments, which often focus on the next election to the exclusion of long-term objectives, he said.

For many, the short-sightedness of governments is embodied in the political bickering over the Kyoto Protocol, an international environmental treaty that was drawn up in 1997 by the United Nations. Despite persistent pressure from European nations, the United States, the world's biggest per capita polluter, has yet to ratify the agreement.

Denmark is to host a Dec. 6-18 U.N. conference on climate change that will discuss the formation of a post-Kyoto agreement for 2012, when the first commitment period for the treaty is due to expire. …

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