Latest IPCC Report
In October 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a hard-hitting report on the potential impacts the world will experience when global temperatures rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, which is likely to occur within the next twelve years. It is a stark warning of the increasing intensity of storms, forest fires, droughts, heat waves, floods and the end of coral reefs. Following earlier, more cautiously worded reports, this time hundreds of the world’s top climate scientists were outspoken in their concerns, providing a stark warning that we are on the edge of climate disaster.
So what has been the response to this report? Has the news been dominated by politicians eager to speed forward policies and initiatives which will reduce emissions? Are ordinary people talking everyday in pubs, school playgrounds and offices about the need to make radical changes in their lives; cancelling foreign holidays that involve flights and cruise ships and modifying their shopping, heating and travel behaviour? Are sales of electric cars, bikes and of renewable technologies soaring? Are people everywhere realising that the time to act is really now; and that it is time to make radical and long lasting change that will ensure life as we know it, can continue……?
Well – if only this represented the truth!! This radical and incredibly serious report has been largely ignored by the media, by the UK’s politicians pursuing their approach to Brexit – and by the general public who, sensing that leaders don’t see this as a priority, mostly feel comfortable in continuing to ignore the warnings. Indeed, the week following the report’s release, fracking began again in Lancashire, and the government announced the end of government support for renewables and the subsidies for electric cars.
When will we, as regions, nations and the global community collectively heed the seriousness of these warnings and respond appropriately, and with the necessary urgency? The Paris Agreement in 2015 committed nations to keep global warming below two degrees by the end of this century, to limit the effects of climate change. It required nations to pledge a plan of action to reduce carbon emissions and make those plans public. An analysis of the plans already published, suggest that at present we are on course for a 3 degree rise by the end of the century…….
Bishop Nick Holtam of Salisbury Diocese is asking Christians to give more legitimacy to the scientific facts, given that the impacts of climate change raise issues of ethics and intergenerational justice.
As a first step here in the Hereford Diocese, Richard Frith, the Bishop of Hereford, supported by Bishop’s Council, is asking the Diocese to commit to becoming an eco-diocese. The Bishop comments: “As Christians we believe we are accountable to God for the stewardship of the world’s resources that we inherited, and we intend to step up to the mark”. M-CENT are keen to support churches that want to respond; providing discussion-based bible study materials, encouraging Forest church, practical tips and climate prayers.
Diocese of Salisbury declared the first Eco Diocese
The Diocese of Salisbury is the first Anglican Diocese to be granted Eco Diocese status – awarded by A Rocha UK – the Christian based environmental charity which runs the green award scheme. The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam said: “I am delighted and very encouraged that the Diocese of Salisbury is the first to win this award. As the lead bishop on the environment for the Church of England I am delighted my own diocese is first and I also hope that others will be close behind us.”
UN Climate Summit
This month we pray for all assembled in Katowice; leaders, NGOs and negotiating teams – as they agree on how to move forward the Paris Agreement. We commit to prayer for positive outcomes!
Action on plastics
#Love Bridgnorth: Hate Plastic
A new initiative has been launched in Bridgnorth called #Love Bridgnorth: Hate Plastic. It is being organised by retailers in the town and local environmental society ‘Sustainable Bridgnorth’. The group has already been offering some funding for paper bags to be offered as an alternative to plastic ones. They are exploring other ideas and initiatives for schools, churches and individuals to form a co-ordinated campaign for the town in preparation for the launch of a “Plastic Free February” as a first step towards promoting a more sustainable future.
On a recent visit made by one of our members to Uganda, she was sad to see the amount of plastic that clutters the streets of towns and falls into open drains. In the countryside she heard reports from farmers of prolonged dry seasons and increasingly unpredictable rainy seasons causing crop failures. On a more positive note, however, when she attended a confirmation service she was encouraged to hear that amongst the very specific questions the candidates had to answer on faith, bible study and social action, was the question “Will you endeavour to be a good steward of God’s Creation and care for the environment”. To this question (as to the others) they gave the enthusiastic response “We will, we will, we will”. Perhaps we have something to learn from this!
Stretton Climate Care have surveyed local shops to discover which traders were trying to reduce their use of plastic. They discovered just one shop that still had only plastic bags! Other shops could offer a corn starch or paper alternative. Food shops were willing for shoppers to bring their own reusable containers for both fresh and dried goods, and plastic straws were definitely on their way out. It wasn’t just tea and coffee which could be bought loose. Customers were welcome to bring their own reusable containers for take-a-way drinks and increasing numbers of the town’s traders were looking at alternative packaging. Stretton Climate Care has produced a free window sticker for anyone who wants to be seen to be cutting down on plastic. A number of shops in town are already displaying them. These and an information leaflet on ‘What to do about plastic’ are available from the Wellbeing Centre, Easthope Rd, Church Stretton.
Ditch the Plastic
Bishops Castle recently had two days of plastics action. Two stalls were filled with information in the High Street. One was opposite the Co-op and people were asked to dump some of their plastic wrappings into a bag. There were two quizzes: a children’s one involved a mini beach with different kinds of plastics hidden in it, with a prize for the top scorer. The adult quiz had twenty questions about plastics and their impact. Amongst the booklets, leaflets and information, there were examples of replacements for plastic such as tooth brushes and picnic cups. Pupils from the Community College helped by dressing up to illustrate the good, bad and the ugly about plastics. The organisers were very pleased with the public response. Members of the local group plan next to visit two Veolia sites: in Wolverhampton and Battlefields, Shrewsbury to learn about the recycling carried out.
A Christian group, Christian Climate Action, has joined forces with the new movement called Extinction Rebellion. Their rationale is to make it clear that time has run out to protest gently. There is such a need for urgency that they are using non-destructive direct action (NDRA) to raise awareness. For example they have glued their hands to government buildings and the gates of Buckingham Palace, blocked entrances to government agencies they claim are not doing enough, and blocked roads, roundabouts and bridges for short periods. They ask that Governments make clear the climate and wider ecological emergency to all citizens and reverse inconsistent policies and work alongside the media to communicate with citizens. The movement, which began in London, is spreading to other UK cities and around the world. Their website allows people to write their own stories – and some are very powerful.
We given thanks for people who are giving so much of their time to communicate their concerns and pray that their actions will have a positive impact.
Depressing though it is to think about Easter as Christmas approaches, this is the time of year when parishes make decisions about Lent courses. If you want to encourage people in your parish to reflect more deeply on their responses to climate change and environmental damage, do remember we have a discussion-based course for small groups called ‘Future Calling’. This asks people to consider what sort of future they want for the world. We provide varied ‘Avenues’ to help people explore their thinking during the course including poetry, science, bible study, and prayer. The course encourages practical changes in lifestyle, either individually, or as a group. This course could be held during Lent, around harvest time or at any appropriate time. All the resources for Future Calling are available free of charge to download on our website.
Impacts on wildlife
Concern at the damage that humankind is doing to the natural environment has been stirred by several recent reports. A People’s Manifesto for Wildlife was launched this autumn by Chris Packham featuring a series of essays by 18 experts ‘Ministers’ highlighting some of the key issues affecting the UK landscape and its species. The WWF’s ‘Living Planet Report 2018’ was launched in October and gives a sobering report on the impact of human activity on the world’s habitats and species. It notes that populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians have, on average, declined in size by 60 percent in just over 40 years. It notes that we have a closing window for action. There is an extremely urgent need for the global community to value, protect and restore nature.
Ecological projects in Holy Trinity Church, Much Wenlock
During 2018 four members of the congregation formed an environment group as a sub-committee of the PCC. We recognise that, as Christians, we are contributing to environmental degradation, and feel we are called to respond. The four of us have supported each other in the process with tasks willingly passed around, based upon our skills and time available. Thus far we have installed LED lighting in the church, lagged the boiler pipe and have obtained approval in install PV panels on the homes of three of our clergy. Have a look at what we’ve done.
Nine ways to live gently
Green Christian have a really helpful leaflet called ‘Nine ways to live gently’. It’s an excellent way of sharing a range of positive tips on how to reduce our contribution to climate change. Here is a summary of these lifestyle tips. See how many you are following.
Please let us know of any future events and useful information to share in our next newsletter (email firstname.lastname@example.org).
With best wishes from the communications group in M-Cent