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Fed: Catholic church confesses it is climate change sinner

Sat Jul 18 02:03:53 EST 2009
Eds: embargoed to 0001 (AEST) on Saturday, July 18.

SYDNEY, July 18 AAP - The Catholic Church has confessed it is one of the biggest carbon emission sinners in Australia.

Catholic Earthcare, the organisation set up in 2002 by bishops to advise the church on environmental issues, admitted the Australian Catholic church has a carbon footprint dwarfing other major organisations.

"Although measurement has just begun, Catholic Earthcare estimates the carbon emissions of the Catholic church in Australia could be in the vicinity of 1.2 million to 1.5 million tonnes annually," a Carbon Earthcare statement said.

"This is on a par with the carbon emissions of the Australian government, excluding defence operations, of 1.7 million tonnes, and dwarfs the emissions of organisations such as the National Australian Bank and Insurance Australia Group."

The organisation said it had launched a major drive to bring its carbon footprint down to more saintly proportions.

Jacqui Redmond, Catholic Earthcare's executive director, says the church owed it to God to reduce its emissions.

"We have a responsibility to our creator as well as to future generations to leave a small footprint," she said.

Ms Redmond says the decision to analyse the church's carbon emissions using high-tech new tools developed by CarbonSystems, a private firm which helps organisations reduce carbon output, would lead to a reduction of the church's footprint.

The move was backed on Friday by former US vice-president and environmental campaigner Al Gore who met Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Sydney this week.

"The availability of this new tool for measuring our impact on the environment will allow us to measure and manage, to help us be good stewards in caring for God's creation," Mr Gore said.

It comes despite the head of the Australian Catholic Church, Cardinal George Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, being a self-confessed global warming sceptic.

Cardinal Pell has regularly spoken out about his scepticism that man is affecting global warming.