An unexpected success, Nagoya summit offers hope for future environment talks

It does not often happen that an international top-level environment conference receives positive comments and a broad welcome, even from environmental organizations. The Convention on Biological Diversity’s 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) however, held in Nagoya from 18 to 29 October 2010, is generally considered a to be a decisive and even historic step towards an effective protection of biodiversity.

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European Bishops Ecology Pilgrimage

Around fifty delegates from more than fifteen countries of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe set out on 1st September 2010 from the Basilica of Esztergom, Hungary on a pilgrimage of hope for all creation to the Shrine of Mariazell in Austria, passing through Slovakia where we were welcomed by the Archbishop of Bratislava, Stanislav Zvolenský. The initiative was inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s Message for the World Day of Peace in 2010 entitled If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.

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‘Green’ Bishop Receives Alternative Nobel Prize

A leading figure in Brazil’s environment movement, Erwin Kräutler, is one of the four winners of the Right Livelihood Award 2010, known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’. The 71-year-old Catholic Bishop of Xingu in the Amazon region is honoured for “a lifetime of work for the human and environmental rights of indigenous peoples and for his tireless efforts to save the Amazon forest from destruction”, the prize committee in Stockholm said.

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Faith and the Environment: European Parliament Conference on Caritas in Veritate

Frank Turner participated in the conference in the European Parliament about the Encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” jointly organized by the European Popular Group and the Commission of the Bishops of European Union (COMECE).

Taking up a point that has been raised indirectly today, but not discussed directly, I want to add a preliminary note about ‘Catholic Social Teaching’ (henceforth ‘CST’) as a genre: about documents such as Caritas in Veritate, and how we best read them. Such documents have a key role in the Church – and have some inherent limitations, just as to choose any mode of writing is to accept certain opportunities and certain limitations. In particular, an encyclical is neither a work of political analysis, nor a work of theology as such: it is precisely teaching.

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Making aid efficient and coherent

The European Court of Auditors recently published a series of reports analysing different schemes of aid and development cooperation, and demonstrating the need for modifications affecting the EU’s future commitments.

Such tragedies as that of the Haitian earthquake tend to stimulate massively generous impulses, but longer-term questioning about how efficient is the international response. Coincidentally the European Court of Auditors has recently released three reports that focus on different dimensions of the European commitment to aid and development.

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Is alternative energy the silver lining from the Gulf oil spill?

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill may transpire to be one of the biggest man-made disasters of all time, but in a strange twist of irony, the destruction off the US coast and surrounding environment by the gushing riser oil pipe could relight the cause for alternative energy and a cleaner environment.

It seems morbid to consider anything as bad as 70,000 barrels of crude oil pumping into one of the world’s richest oceans as having a silver-lining, but in some instances it takes a thumping blow from a heavy object – in this case an oil slick the size of Delaware, and growing – for the masses to champion alternative, cleaner means. And that doesn’t just mean within the US, but across the entire world.

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Picking up the pieces, regaining momentum after Copenhagen

The United Nations Framework on Climate Change will resume meetings after the failure of the Copenhagen Conference. The two major issues, besides the financial instruments, are the need to conclude a legally binding agreement and to agree transparent rules to assess compliance.

Although a large majority of commentators consider the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference to have been a failure, certain influential voices have stressed the value of the Conference’s agreements. Lord Stern, professor at the London School of Economics and author of a key report on the economic and social assessment of climate change, has affirmed that “this process has itself been a key part of countries stating what their intentions on emissions reductions are – countries that had not stated them before, including China and the US”.

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