On April 26th and 27th, 2007, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has organised an international Conference on Climate Change and Development, in which I participated. In a “The Tablet” article by Robert Mickens entitled ‘Eco-sceptics’ mar Vatican’s foray into climate-change debate (5 May 2007), I have been quoted as follows:
Jesuit Fr Jacques Haers of the Catholic University of Louvain said he was disturbed that “IPCC scientists had been publicly rubbished at a church conference”. However, he said it did not appear that the Vatican shared the sceptics’ view. Fr Haers noted that several participants had suggested that Pope Benedict XVI issue an encyclical on safeguarding the environment.
It leaves me worried, indeed, that the work of the serious scientists who participate in compiling the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports (they were represented by the German Stefan Rahmstorf, who delivered an excellent paper), came under strong fire by a number of eco-sceptics who were alloted a more than reasonable number of interventions at the Conference. I was, however, very impressed by the interventions of several politicians who participated in the event – the Frenchman Laurent Stefanini, the British David Miliband (his contribution has been published in The Tablet, April 27, 2007), and the Argentinian Raúl Estrada Oyuela – and by the presentations of various bishops -Bernd Uhl from Freiburg, Christopher Toohey from Forbes NSW in Australia, and the Anglican bishop of Liverpool James Jones (the interventions of his RCC counterpart, archbishop Patrick Kelly, were also of a very high quality) – as well as the representative of the World Council of Churches – Elias C. Abramides -.
It remains a pity that a full day was lost to quarreling with the eco-sceptics and that precious time was lost in which a better and fuller unfolding of a theology of the environment could have been developed.