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 CNS Story:

VATICAN-CO2 Sep-29-2008 (340 words) xxxi

First saplings of Vatican reforestation project to be planted

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The first saplings of the Vatican Climate Forest, a reforestation project to offset the Vatican's carbon dioxide emissions, will be planted in November, the Vatican newspaper said.

The U.S.-based Planktos Inc. and its Hungarian partner, KlimaFa Ltd., are restoring more than 600 acres of forests in Hungary along the Tisza River to offset emissions of carbon dioxide, or CO2.

The two companies earn money by selling greenhouse-gas mitigation credits to individuals and businesses. Whatever carbon dioxide emissions an individual or company cannot eliminate can be offset by planting trees or buying the carbon mitigation credits of a company that plants trees or takes other action to eliminate carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Planktos and KlimaFa announced in 2007 that they would donate to the Vatican enough mitigation credits to offset the Vatican's annual CO2 production, estimated at 10,000 tons.

The monetary value of the gift is almost $250,000, said L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.

The paper reported Sept. 28 that the planting of 125,600 oak, white willow, black poplar and wild fruit trees would begin in November after the existing trees in the area have finished losing their leaves and before the ground begins to freeze.

A 20-year management project is planned for the forest, which will become a permanent part of the Hungarian national forest system, the newspaper said.

The project, the paper said, deals only with compensating for the greenhouse gases emitted by heating and cooling Vatican buildings and driving Vatican cars.

"To fight pollution effectively, therefore, other kinds of interventions are necessary to save energy, reduce harmful emissions and use renewable energy," the paper said.

The Vatican has the "ambitious objective" of relying on renewable energy sources for 20 percent of its energy needs by 2020, the target date set by the European Union for the continent's countries, the paper said. The first step will be to generate electricity from solar panels currently being installed on the roof of the Vatican audience hall.


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