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ENERGY SUSTAINABILITY AND THE PAPAL ENCYCLICAL LAUDATO SI: BUSINESS AS A FORCE FOR CHANGE?

Abstract: It has been widely accepted by policy makers, corporate executives, and citizens alike that economic growth is the measure of a nation‘s prosperity and well-being. The almost single-minded focus on growth has been achieved at high ecological and social cost, which has become a source of great concern. One of the driving forces behind the achievement of unbridled growth has been the unquenchable thirst for energy worldwide. This paper investigates the challenges posed by the growth-energy nexus. While renewable energies are making giant strides, they account for a mere fraction of the world‘s demand for energy. The dependence on fossil fuels(driven, in part, by the industry‘s political power) and concerns over the use of nuclear power persist. The Papal Encyclical Laudato Si‘ offers a detailed analysis of the harm humanity has inflicted on its common home, and the arguments developed in this paper are evaluated through the prism of the Encyclical. The underlying mind-set preventing more sustainable ways of generating and using energy are explored, and the need to articulate the spiritual dimension of human existence, while accepting the scientific consensus, is emphasized. The recent international accord on addressing climate change can only work if the ―technocratic‖ paradigm is radically modified. The paper concludes with a point mentioned in passing in the Encyclical: that corporation could-and, in fact, are beginning to-play a central role in finding sustainable solutions which reduce costs and align with their core competencies, regardless of whether the international consensus holds or not.

Keywords: Economic growth, energy needs, Papal Encyclical, mind-sets, spirituality, corporate sustainability

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BERNARD AROGYASWAMY


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