As the Synod on the future of the Church is set to begin on October 4, 2023, the organizers have decided to pursue an initiative to offset the CO2 emissions that this event will create, the General Secretariat of the Synod announced September 19, 2023. The project will install efficient cooking stoves and water purification technologies in Kenya and Nigeria, in line with the “integral ecology” promoted in Pope Francis’ encyclical on the care of creation, Laudato Si’.
Offsetting carbon emissions means doing an activity to compensate for the CO2 or other greenhouse gasses one emits. The 16th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican, which will be held throughout October, will bring together over 400 bishops, lay people, and religious from all over the world, to reflect on the Church today and in the future.
After implementing strategies to reduce the carbon footprint, including prioritizing digital documents over paper, or eliminating the use of plastic, the event will still produce 625,552 kg of CO2 equivalent gas, a technical study done by the environmental company, LifeGate, explains. In fact it states that 51% of the carbon footprint of the event is solely generated from the participants traveling to Rome. Then, 21% of the gases emitted will be generated from meals, 19% from the participants’ stay in Rome, 7% from transportation around the city and other minor impacts will include the use of paper or water and electricity consumption.
New stoves and water purifiers in Kenya and Nigeria
Through a financial contribution from the SOS Planet Foundation, the Synod organizers want to reduce the environmental impact of the event through community building initiatives. The project chosen will install efficient cooking stoves and water purification technologies to homes, communities, and institutions in Kenya and Nigeria.
“The new technologies will significantly reduce the consumption of nonrenewable biomass and fossil fuels for cooking and boiling water,” the statement explains. “This will result in a significant improvement in air pollution that is directly correlated to respiratory disease and mortality rates, especially among women and children, consequently improving the overall health of the affected populations.”
For example, since the project “Burn Stoves” began in Kenya in 2016 over 3.6 million stoves have been distributed in all 47 counties across the country. These appliances are more efficient than traditional cooking stoves, as they require less charcoal and thus have a more positive impact financially, environmentally and on people’s health.
The Synod on Synodality is scheduled to begin on October 4, the same day that Pope Francis announced he will publish an apostolic exhortation in continuation of his 2015 encyclical on the care for creation, Laudato Si’.