The Dioceses of Bath and Wells, Bristol, Exeter, Gloucester, Salisbury and Truro recently shared in running a Lent Carbon Fast together. To follow this up www.ecochurchsouthwest.org.uk will offer a range of resources to further encourage positive action for Christians in addressing climate change and environmental damage.
The website includes maps, case studies, worship material, examples of green projects and ideas for future action. These include composting toilets, Fairtrade churches, Eco-congregations and church buildings with solar panels.
The website is part of the national Church of England’s campaign of “Shrinking the Footprint” and links to other work promoting global climate justice.
This will now replace this existing Exeter Shrinking the Footprint website...
As a response to this the Bishop of Crediton, Rt. Revd. Nick McKinnel, and Chair of the Methodist District, Revd. Pete Pillinger, visited the Exeter hub of the Devon and Cornwall Food Association (DCFA) on 7th April.
They met with volunteers and steering group members, as well as new Administrator, Rory Matthews, and heard how this food rescue project has saved over 3,500 kilos of good food so far this year, worth almost £10,000 to local charities including schools, hostels, soup kitchens and hospices.
Later this week the 4 Archdeacons in the Diocese will be visiting Food Banks in Tiverton, Bideford and Plymouth. Although hopefully not a permanent part of Britain’s social landscape, these mark community responses to increasing numbers of people scandalously unable to access food in our country today.
DCFA runs another hub in Plymouth, also to prevent good quality food from being destroyed and re-distributing it to local community organisations in and around the city. The wasting of food at different points of the food chain is one of the factors prompting poverty and malnutrition in Devon.
Those registering will receive further information in the coming weeks with a particular focus on daily actions for individuals and households.
Actions for schools will also be available on request.
Thank you to all who voted for the Devon & Cornwall Food Association which received enough public support to be awarded £50,000 from the Peoples' Millions through ITV.
If you are interested you can also follow the DCFA and it's work at
Philippines lead negotiator Yeb Sano has just addressed the opening session of the UN climate summit in Warsaw – calling for urgent action to prevent a repeat of the devastating storm that hit parts of his country at the weekend. An extract from his speech is below.
To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of you armchair. I dare you to go to the islands of the Pacific, the islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian ocean and see the impacts of rising sea levels; to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Andes to see communities confronting glacial floods, to the Arctic where communities grapple with the fast dwindling polar ice caps, to the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon, and the Nile where lives and livelihoods are drowned, to the hills of Central America that confronts similar monstrous hurricanes, to the vast savannas of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce. Not to forget the massive hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard of North America. And if that is not enough, you may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now.
During his speech, Sano added an unscripted pledge to fast during the conference, until meaningful progress had been made. He said:
“In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days, in all due respect Mr. President, and I mean no disrespect for your kind hospitality, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”
Christian Ecology Link (CEL) suggests people use this prayer:
To you, O Lord, we lift up our souls;
In you we trust, O God.
Faithful, merciful, trusting God,
We pray for the COP19 UN negotiations happening in Warsaw at the moment.
Speak to the hearts of every negotiator
Show us your ways, O Lord,
One option amongst others is a re-usable, portable hot cushion which enables churchgoers to stay warm and comfortable during services.
The cushion contains a chemically-triggered re-heatable pad which remains warm for up to 90 minutes and which can be held or sat on in a church pew or seat. The pad is later boiled in water for five minutes for future use and can be re-heated hundreds of times.
We are piloting the scheme in two locations – Broadclyst and Whiddon Mission Comunity (North Dartmoor) for a three month period from 3rd November 2013 to 26th January 2014. In this time parishioners will be encouraged to test the conclusions and, if successful, the project may be rolled out across Devon.
Churches using the cushions should be able to save energy and on their electricity bills, with the materials being recyclable at their end of life.
Many church and civil society representatives have expressed disappointment over the lack of vision and ambition in the outcomes of the Rio+20 summit, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012. Yet the affirmation of the human right to water and sanitation is one aspect among others in the results that the future work of the ecumenical movement for sustainability and eco-justice can build on.
“The outcome document of Rio+20 does not reflect the urgency of threats to life on earth as presented by the scientific community,” noted Dr Guillermo Kerber, the WCC programme executive on Care for Creation and Climate Justice when the summit in Rio de Janeiro had concluded.
“The international community, having been unable to reach a consensus, opted for the lowest common denominator, avoiding any controversial issues. As a result, the earth loses, and the poor and vulnerable lose,” added Kerber on why religious actors widely refused to accept the final document of Rio+20 as an effective instrument of change.
Yet, while affected by the general disappointment over the lack of vision and ambition in the outcomes of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), ecumenical partners agreed that some positive aspects could be found among the results of the summit that could be helpful in the future work for sustainable development.
These aspects include the much debated inclusion of not only the human right to water and sanitation for which the WCC’s Ecumenical Water Network had spoken up, but also other key human rights principles.
“In the original 1992 Rio conference outcome, human rights were entirely lacking”, recalled Peter Prove, executive director of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA). “But this time the text is full of rights language, covering the rights to food, to health – including sexual and reproductive health, to water and sanitation, to education, to social security, labour rights and the right to development.”
“The outcome on food and agriculture issues was generally better than feared,” added Christine Campeau, the EAA Food Campaign Coordinator. She said that “explicit commitments concerning smallholder farmers, traditional seed supply systems, empowering rural women, addressing food price volatility, increased investment in sustainable agriculture and reducing post-harvest losses and food waste, as well as affirmations of the human right to food and of the role of the Committee on World Food Security - it gives us something to work with.”
“Though far from being the mine of inspiration and leverage we advocated and hoped for, there are a few ‘nuggets’ to be found when we carefully sift through the results of the summit,” agrees Isaiah Kipyegon from the ACT Alliance. “The establishment of a process to develop Sustainable Development Goals to replace the Millennium Development Goals after 2015, as well as the voluntary sustainability reporting for companies are important opportunities for the ecumenical family to engage with further.”
“There are some solid - nothing inspirational - but some solid processes, some solid decisions at Rio that we will definitely (…) be working on moving forwards,” confirms Dr Alison Doig, Christian Aid's senior advisor on Sustainable Development. As an example she referred to the UK government’s decision on making it mandatory for large companies to publish their carbon emissions.
Looking beyond the inter-governmental processes, many also felt encouraged and energized by the vibrancy of civil society initiatives that showed in the People’s Summit which ran parallel to the UNCSD summit.
“After these days of fighting next to amazing people, I am a different person,” reflected Bia Pitrofski, a participant in “Criatitude,” an educational project that encourages Lutherans and others in Latin America to use “creative attitudes” in promoting sustainability and eco-justice. “I have hope in a better world, a new world, and in living in harmony as a society and as a part of creation. I see that there is a young generation of protagonists, and we are an example of that.”
Notes from World Council of Churches
Starting on 5th March next year congregations and parishes will be trying to reduce their carbon emissions through taking a series of actions at home, in church and in the community. Less driving, shopping more locally, better insulation, greater energy efficiencies, turning off unnecessary lights and heating, investing in non-fossil fuels, and other green activities are likely to be suggested each of 40 days across the Lenten time and in the run up to Easter on 20th April.
The same objective is being proposed across every Church of England Diocese in the South West, although so far only Bath & Wells, Bristol and Exeter have debated and voted on the suggestion.
It is also hoped that other churches in Devon will wish to participate and materials for worship, study and action will be developed in the coming months ready for use in the coming Spring.
Diocesan Environment Officer Martyn Goss introduced the issue to the Synod. A copy of his address is attached.