Holy See: Ensuring access to affordable and sustainable energy 'a moral duty'

As the UN hosts a high-level event on energy, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher sends a video message to participants, and says that transition to accessible and clean energy is a duty that richer countries owe to poorer ones.

By Lisa Zengarini

The Holy See believes the implementation of Goal 7 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDG7), which sets to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, “is now ever more urgent”. 

Millions living without electricity

Currently, 759 million people live without electricity across the world. 

The United Nations held a high-level dialogue on energy on Thursday, focused on the theme “Accelerating action to achieve SDG 7 in support of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement”. 

In a video message to participants, which was released on Saturday, the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States recalled that universal access to affordable and reliable energy is pivotal to eliminate poverty and hunger.

To this end, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher said, “reasonable energy pricing, ethical business practices and subsidies for the poorest are essential,” noting that poor people, even in developed countries often cannot afford the energy needed for daily life.

Negative impact of production and consumption

The English-born prelate further called attention on the negative impact of production/consumption on the planet and the poor, which results in some cases in social unrest, negative health impacts, conflict, and numerous human rights violations.

He also noted that climate change "disrupts the agricultural sector, exacerbates water insecurity and scarcity, and increases exposure to extreme weather events, destroying livelihoods and forcing many to leave their homes and migrate.”

Changing  the modern ‘throw-away culture’ 

According to the Holy See, a just energy transition should therefore pursue smarter, more efficient, and more peaceful energy production, management, and consumption, “especially in those areas where energy is most likely to be wasted.”

“The production of disposable goods, low-quality products, single-use items, and other commercial strategies that purposefully waste energy are all symptoms of a ‘throw-away culture’,” Archbishop Gallagher pointed out.

This is why the largest energy consumers have “an obligation” to review their impact on “those who are not yet able to live in a way worthy of their human dignity.”

Energy use must not destroy civilization

“The transition to accessible and clean energy is a duty that we owe to millions of our brothers and sisters around the world, especially the poor, including generations yet to come,” Archbishop Gallagher concluded, quoting pope Francis words: “Civilization requires energy, but energy use must not destroy civilization.”

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25 September 2021, 10:02