Increase Font Decrease Font PDF email Print
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
A United Nations conference on climate change was held in Durban, South Africa on 28 November-10 December. We interviewed Luca Fiorani who is responsible for EcoOne, an international network of professionals operating in the environmental field, asking him for his assessment.

A two week-long United Nations conference on climate change. What is your assesment?

A modest last minute compromise was reached in Durban. The conference lasted a day longer than was foreseen and didn’t produce a new binding agreement, but postponed its drafting to 2015 and its enforcement to 2020. This confirms the general tendency of recent international negotiations on climate change: deadlock. We are witnessing on a global scale, a typical scene of sibling fighting. Everyone is waiting for the other sibling to take the first step to resolve their differences.

The Kyoto protocol for reducing greenhouse gases that was extended until 2015, is insufficient because of its limited objectives and because highly-polluting countries do not adhere to it. Some of the big “historic” polluters would like the so-called emerging countries to be the ones to reduce emissions.

Neverthelss I remain optimistic. I believe that humankind will find a solution. Some countries have already understood the strategic importance of renewable energies. The European Union fits into this context with its ‘20 20 20’ (reduction of greenhouse gas by 20%; reduction in energy consumption by 20% through the use of renewable energy.)

Isn’t there a risk of these decisions being to the disadvantage of emerging countries?

The risk is there. In fact, some rightly oppose the reduction of greenhouse gases while remaining to stand on the side of emerging countries where a large portion of the population is still without water and electricity. It would involve supporting renewable clean energy. It makes you wonder why the rich countries do not surrender their patents. Why do they export polluting industries? Among those who hold this position there is also the Catholic Church.

In Durban there were representatives of a 190 countries who seek large accords among States. But on the micro level, can’t something also be done?

Yes, of course. Personal involvement, consumer and voting choice and simpler lifestyle are all important actions that can be taken. Moreover, EcoOne is trying to also develop a debate on the level of the relationship between human beings and nature. . .

Could you explain that a bit more? What are EcoOne’s proposals for a more sustainable life?

EcoOne’s proposal stems from the thought of Chiara Lubich. What has Chiara taught us? Not so much the latest techniques for saving energy, but an outlook toward nature that is new. She made us gather the presence of God beneath things. She made us understand universal brotherhood, which means brotherhood with other peoples within our generation and among generations as a response to questions such as: ‘What kind of planet will we leave to our children? What kind of air will they breathe?’

By reflecting on a man-nature relationship in this renewed way, we find a possibility for overcoming an excessive anthropocentrism; that is, of considering man as absolute dominator and destroyer of nature in order to make money, of no longer thinking of nature as the center, up to the point that human beings become a “disturbance” in the cosmos.

We believe that the answer lies rather in the gift of ourselves, in the human person as a gift along  with our fellow men and women and with nature, of which we are not the masters but the custodians, the administrators, because God has entrusted it to us.

Luca Fiorani, researcher at the ENEA and professor of Ecology and Environment at LUMSA, is the international coordinator of EcoOne, a cultural project promoted by teachers, researchers and professionals working in the field of Environmental Science, who are united by the desire to enrich their scientific knowledge with a humanistic and sapiential understanding of environmental problems. In 2010, together with Antonello Pasini, he published for Città Nuova, Il pianeta che scotta, capire il dibattito sui camgiamenti climatici (The hot planet, understanding the climate change debate.)