In a wonderful example of leading by example, the Catholic Church this past week took its first steps into the foray of “green power” with the activation of a new solar energy system. The massive grid of 2,400 photovoltaic panels sits atop the Vatican’s “Nervi Hall,” where the Pope holds general audience and concerts are performed. The system will save 80 tons of oil per year, or 225 tons of CO2.
The efforts to advance renewable energy sources for the Catholic church have been lead by none other than Pope Benedict XVI himself, who has long stated his church’s commitment to the environment. It’s a remarkable example of an ancient institution taking a progressive stance to attack a problem head on, and I applaud the effort whole-heartedly. In addition, since the summer of 2007, the Vatican has also been involved with an eco-restoration company to restore an ancient forest in Hungary, and more projects are in the works.
By far, the most hopeful part of the Vatican’s efforts have been its willingness to spread the word about climate change. The Vatican has hosted a scientific conference to discuss the ramifications of global warming, blamed on human use of fossil fuels. If a conservative organization such as the Catholic Church can spearhead protection and education of the environment, then perhaps the right can take its first steps to realizing that climate change isn’t a liberal or a progressive issue. It effects us all and we need to start dealing with it. Thankfully, the Vatican, led by Pope Benedict XVI, realized this a long time ago. Now it’s time for other conservatives to catch up.