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Vatican enters new phase in net-zero emissions goals


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J-P Mauro - published on 06/13/23

The Holy See is taking a leading role in mitigating climate change, pledging a goal of climate sustainability by 2050.

The Vatican is continuing its efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, a pledge made by the Holy See in 2020, completing a study of carbon emissions at St. Peter’s Basilica. The work is a collaboration between the Fabric of St. Peter – the Vatican body dedicated to the conservation and maintenance of St. Peter’s Basilica – and the World Resources Institute (WRI).

The two organizations previously signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the aim of reducing the greenhouse gasses produced by St. Peter’s Basilica and achieving environmental stability. To do this, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, Vicar General for the Vatican City State and President of the Fabric of Saint Peter, has worked closely with the WRI on an in depth study of the basilica’s emissions. 

The program took a complete inventory of the carbon emissions of the basilica, as well as the surrounding annexed complex of buildings. WRI reports that the study followed a methodology for climate mitigation that was created by WRI’s Faith and Sustainability Initiative and Georgetown University. This research is invaluable to informing the team about areas that need improvement as well as the current progress in regards to the basilica’s current sustainability.

Cardinal Gambetti explained the importance of the Vatican’s partnership with the WRI:

“Our planet is going through an environmental crisis that has no comparison to the past. Climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity and deforestation are just examples of the challenges that we have to address,” said Cardinal Gambetti. “It is urgent to switch to new models of sustainability, as underlined by Pope Francis in his magisterium, starting with the encyclical Laudato Si’.”

In continuation, the prelate reiterated the Holy See’s commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions:

“What is happening to the planet, our common home, is not just a concern in terms of environmental awareness but is also about our responsibility towards other people and future generations. Here at the Basilica, we have established a Scientific Committee to study, develop, and implement concrete actions to improve the Basilica’s environmental sustainability ahead of the Jubilee of 2025. The partnership with WRI enriches this urgent commitment.” 

Stientje van Veldhoven, Vice President and Regional Director for WRI Europe, also expressed his gratitude to the Vatican for the collaboration, noting that the Catholic Church’s influence could help to spread the practice of climate change mitigation through most of the world:

“This has great symbolic value as one of the most important places of worship in Catholicism makes the fight against climate change central to its daily operations. When all faith-based organizations make this carbon reduction commitment, we could potentially reach 83% of the world population affiliated with a world religion. There could also be a real emissions impact as many faith-based organizations own or are associated with complexes of buildings, such as hospitals, schools, restaurants, and canteens.”

Catholic ChurchEnvironmentVatican
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