CV News Feed // The Vatican is sponsoring a carbon emission offset program to offset the environmental effects caused by the Synod on Synodality, even as studies show most of these programs do little to no good for the environment.
According to a Vatican press release, “The project chosen to compensate emissions, which responds to the criterion of integral ecology as proposed by the encyclical Laudato Si’, brings together the ecological aspect, attention to the local area and concrete help for the lives of the populations involved.”
Pope Francis published the second installment of Laudato Si’, entitled Laudato Deum, on October 4th, the opening day of the Synod. In it, as reported by CatholicVote, he criticized the “irresponsible lifestyles” of Americans for having double the per-person emissions of the Chinese and seven times that of the world’s poorest.
However, according to a recent report from the Guardian and researchers from a non-profit watchdog group called Corporate Accountability, “the majority of carbon offset programs,” such as the one the Vatican chose to off-set the synod’s carbon footprint, “…are probably junk.”
Out of the top 50 emission offset programs studied, 78% were classified as ineffective “due to one or more fundamental failings that undermine its promised emission cuts.”
In addition, 16% were categorized as potentially problematic, while the remaining 6% could not be determined to be efficacious or have climate benefits.
“The programs work by using carbon credits as “tradable “allowances” or certificates that [allow] the purchaser to compensate for 1 ton of carbon dioxide or the equivalent in greenhouse gases by investing in environmental projects that claim to reduce carbon emissions,” the report explained.
As Erika Lennon, senior attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law climate and energy program, explained in the report, “At the heart of carbon markets is what is seen by many as the flawed notion that avoiding or reducing emissions in one place can make up for ongoing emissions elsewhere.”
The problem with offsetting programs is that there is no way to predict how much carbon emissions a given project actually prevents. As such, “credit” calculations themselves can never be truly precise.
General Secretariat Cardinal Mario Grech said before the synod began that the Vatican will provide financial support for SOS Planet Foundation, an organization dedicated to carrying out environmental projects reducing carbon emissions, and “the technical contribution of Lifegate,” a benefit corporation that helps companies comply with sustainability standards.
The project selected to offset the synod’s estimated carbon emissions will be implemented in Kenya and Nigeria and will involve the installation of “efficient cooking stoves and water purification technologies to households, communities and institutions.”
Proceeds from the sale of “carbon credits”‘ will be funneled towards local businesses dedicated to producing and maintaining similar technologies that reduce CO2 emissions.
“This will result in a significant improvement in air pollution that is directly correlated to respiratory disease and mortality rates, especially among women and children, consequently improving the overall health of the affected populations,” the Vatican’s statement continued.