Vatican delegation joins climate change conference

Gustavo Solis

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VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican's delegation to the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, was being headed by an experienced diplomat and included experts on the environment.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations, was to lead the five-person Vatican delegation at the Copenhagen conference, Vatican Radio reported. Archbishop Migliore was scheduled to speak to the UN during the Dec. 7-18 conference.

The delegation included climate expert Marcus Wandinger, who has published numerous articles on environmental issues, and an official of the Vatican Secretariat of State, Paolo Conversi, who teaches human ecology at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University.

Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella organization for more than 150 Catholic charities, also will be represented at the climate summit. Caritas and the Catholic International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity have called for a "fair, effective and binding agreement in Copenhagen" that is based on several essential criteria:

A commitment by developed countries to pledge at least $195 billion in public financing per year by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to climate change.
An international commitment to keep global warming well below 2 degrees C (about 3.6 degrees F), and to reach a peak in greenhouse gas emissions in the period 2013-2017.
Agreement by developed countries to a greenhouse gas emissions target of more than 40% below 1990 levels by 2020, to be reached mainly by domestic emission reductions.
That Copenhagen outcomes be legally binding and enforceable.

The two Catholic charity organizations represented other Catholic agencies campaigning for a new deal on climate change. Caritas is bringing bishops and other representatives from 25 countries to encourage governments to seize the "once-in-a-generation chance to save the human family from a future of climate chaos."

Archbishop Migliore spoke to the U.N. General Assembly about climate change last November. He said a new global strategy must seek long-term solutions and help alleviate poverty by giving special attention to developing countries.

In the speech he warned against fostering short-term economic growth without regard to the environment, saying "we should not burden future generations with our overstated energy consumption."

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