At the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP24), people discuss the policies to be promoted in order to face climate change, which is a scientific fact accepted by – almost – all international actors. But, all changes must be based on a solid terrain, i.e. the willingness to change. Unfortunately, civil society has not demonstrated it worldwide, as some national communities have elected representatives and preferred parties which explicitly refuse to address the environmental threat we are under.
Hence, it seems legitimate to wonder whether that threat has a political or social origin. Even if it is not at the centre of attention, this problem haunts the minds of those who gathered in Katowice to the point that it is sometimes mentioned during official events. In this regard, a side event was organized to illustrate how social issues are intertwined with the environmental ones. A wide variety of participants were at the meeting “Building a Spirit of Solidarity to overcome the crisis”: representatives of the Christian Church, the IPCC, the UNFCCC and of spiritual associations and organizations fighting for human rights.
Bernardino Auza, the Vatican delegate at the UN, recalled the Encyclical “Laudato Sii” by Pope Francis and called for an integral ecology: if the human being is part of nature, can the environmental crisis be separated from the social one? According to this line of thought, it is in fact impossible to feel responsible for the environment without feeling responsible for the other people. Thus, ecological sensitivity needs to encompass a particular care towards human beings and their sense of solidarity and communion.
Other speakers at the event followed Auza’s lead by referring to the need of adopting an integral approach that combines the improvement in our lifestyle and fundamental principles with harmonious variations in the governance and political sphere.
However, these reflections are not completely new. Fifty years ago, Erich Fromm wrote in his “To Have or to Be?” that the implicit behaviour in consumerism is the swallowing of the whole world”. In other words, can we hope to reduce the human impact on the ecosystem and the greenhouse emissions without impeding our economic growth?