Friday, 29 May 2009

How to measure your Church's Carbon Footprint

A fringe meeting was hosted by the Church and Society Council, the General Trustees and Eco-Congregation Scotland was hosted on the last day of the General Assembly in Edinburgh. The meeting was attended by about 150 people representing the length and breath of congregations accross Scotland. Everyone was interested in finding out the best way to calculate the carbon footprint of their church.

This increased interest was in response to the decision of the General Assembly on Friday 25th of May to instruct all presbyteries to reduce the carbon footprint of their congregations by 5% every year. This means that in a very short time, all congregations accross Scotland, will effectively be interested in becoming Eco-Congregations and looking actively for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

Adrian Shaw, Climate Change Project officer has developed the following information.

Step 1. Monitor your Energy Use
How many units of electricity (kilowatt hours) did you use?
If you have gas, how many cubic metres of gas did you use?
If you use heating oil how many litres of oil?

Step 2. Work out the Footprint of your Church Buildings
When you have gathered the information from your fuel bills you need a calculator to work out your carbon footprint. Please use the carbon footprint calculator available here. The document has an embedded spreadsheet. Double clikc on it and the calculator will appear.

Step 3. Make a commitment to reduce this total by 5% every year.
It seems daunting, but, support is at hand. You might want to have a look at the following websites for further details.

There are other sources of advice.
The Energy Savings Trust offers advice and support on reducing your energy use; they may be able to audit your church and help with funding.

The General Trustees website contains details of the better heating scheme and other advice on energy management.

The Church and Society Council web pages opn climate change give you a range of reports and links on climate change.

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MSP urges climate-change action

Aberdeen North SNP MSP Brian Adam specifically mentioned the work of Eco congregations in raising awareness to the dangers of climate change.
“Already in Aberdeen we have three churches – Dyce Parish Church, Bucksburn Stoneywood Church and Sheddocksley Baptist Church – that have been awarded Eco Congregations status because of the congregations’ efforts to reduce their emissions and encouragement given to others to do likewise.”
The full article is available on the Press & Journal. Mr Adams wants the Scottish Government to develop a strategy to alert the public to the dangers of global warming and how they can help reduce emissions.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Church of Scotland's General Assembly supports reduction on carbon footprint.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland supported a 5% yearly reduction of carbon footprint for all churches in Scotland. Ian Galloway, convener of the Church & Society Council presented to the General Assembly a report entitled
"Engaging with Technology, Science and the Environment Climate Change"
which presented the following motions for debate:

16. Instruct Presbyteries, in association with the Church and Society Council, to produce a plan for each congregation in their bounds, setting out how they will measure energy consumption in their church buildings, ascertain their carbon footprint and achieve a year-on-year reduction of 5% of their carbon
footprint using the Eco-Congregation Scotland carbon footprint module; and instruct the Church and Society Council, in consultation with the General Trustees, to report to the General Assembly of 2010 on the implementation of this instruction.
17. Welcome the proposed incorporation of Eco-Congregation Scotland as a Charitable Company and continue to support the work of eco-congregations.
18. Affirm the current commitment of the Church and Society Council to the ‘Responding to Climate Change Project’ and instruct the Church and Society Council, in partnership with other Councils, to complete the review of this project with a view to its development.

The climate change debate threw up some interesting discussion around how ambitious the church should be about targets, with 5% perhaps not being nearly enough of a reduction. The General Assembly approved the "deliverances" therefore demonstrating its committment to engage and mobilize the population at grassroot level in the fight to reduce carbon emissions.

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Thursday, 14 May 2009

European Parliament Elections looming: What does it mean for climate change policies?

With climate change accelerating, financial crises deepening and the challenge
to bring Europe closer to its citizens still to be met, the stakes could not be higher. This is why the European ecumenical organisations present in Brussels (APRODEV, CCME, CSC and Eurodiaconia) call on you to play an active role in raising awareness among your members and in your communities of the importance of the June 2009 European Parliament elections.

Even though the European Parliament’s powers have increased, interest and participation in the parliamentary elections have decreased. With so much at stake in this election, we must work to reverse this trend and ensure that the next European Parliament will work to create the humane, socially-conscious Europe we all want. A Guide for Churches and Christian organisations to the European Elections is available at the Church and Society Council's website.

Credits Photograph of European Parliament taken by Arjan Vandergaag.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Eco Congregations make a difference as noted today in the Scottish Parliament

Brian Adam, MSP for Aberdeen North made an important contribution in today's Climate Change debate highlighting the role of community engagement and particularly the role of Eco Congregations in raising awareness for the environment at community level. You can read the whole debate (which is still taking place...) at the following website. Here is an excerpt from the official record of the debate.

"Brian Adam: It is of course important that Governments take action but, as the cabinet secretary said, it is also important for all of us to take action. I am sure that he is aware of representations on community engagement from eco-congregations such as those at Bucksburn Stoneywood church, Dyce church and Sheddocksley Baptist church in my constituency. What is the Government's view on community engagement? Would it welcome an amendment to ensure that that is part and parcel of the bill?"

John Swinney: The Government would certainly consider sympathetically any amendments on community engagement. Mr Adam kindly provides me with the opportunity to pay tribute to eco-congregations, which have contributed significantly. Some months ago, Mr McNulty led a debate in Parliament on eco-congregations. In my constituency, the Auchtergaven and Moneydie parish church was rebuilt in an immensely eco-friendly fashion. That is a tremendous example of a development in the religious community to deliver an environmentally friendly and enhancing facility in the community. At stage 2, the Government would look sympathetically on the point that Mr Adam makes."

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Climate Change in Pictures

If you are looking for graphic evidence of Climate Change then visit the Guardian. The pictures there could be copied and added to PowerPoint and used in talks, etc. The photographs of Chamonix are especially scary because of the short time gap between them.

Thanks to M. Rooney for the suggestion of this post.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Cadder Parish church receives an Eco-Congregation Award

The assessors particularly commended the congregation of Cadder Parish Church for the following:
 The Fairtrade shop and cafĂ© – working for both the local and global communities

 The way in which Eco-Congregation has been effectively mainstreamed into the administrative structure of the church

 The comprehensive recycling programme with further emphasis on Reduce/Reuse/Repair

 The use of Study walks by the canal as a novel way of building understanding of the links between Christian faith and stewardship of the environment

 The church graveyard environmental improvements, which are an excellent example of working in partnership with local government and the local community

Great Work and Congratulations!!


The photograph of the stained glass window was taken by a member of Cadder Parish church. The history of the window is available on the website of the church.
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Abbotsford Parish Church received a second Eco-congregation Award

The assessors particularly commended the congregation of Abbotsford Parish Church for the following:
 The way in which messages about God’s creation and creation care are integrated into the worship and liturgy of the services. The wealth of eco-liturgy material, which is shared with others all over the world, is a great resource for eco-congregations everywhere.

 The church’s outward-orientated approach with many activities aimed at the local community or getting involved with other Christians to engage on the issue of the environment. For example, through hosting an eco-congregations event, organising local arts activities for children in a community day taking over 10 vacant shops in the nearby arcade, and participation in creating an environmental art installation at the Church of Scotland National Gathering.

 The highly creative and numerous art/worship installations that the minister and many of the congregation members have created to aid worship and as a reminder of God’s creation and our place in it.

 The links made with scientists in the life of the church by providing speakers for the Eco-Congregation workshop, events in schools, and using scientific experiments to illustrate points in the talks/sermons.

 The striking example of the whole church’s practical commitment in the project to light the church tower. In using the most energy efficient LED lights and ensuring that that they would only be lit from dusk until midnight, as well as taking steps to offset this additional electricity use from the congregation, great ingenuity and vision was shown.

 The considerable effort and dedication that green team have put into all the creation care work within their church, the local Eco-Congregation network and the national movement, which makes Abbottsford a beacon, not only in the local community, but also across Scotland.

Credits The picture of the feather is part of the Sanctuary Art display at Abbotsford Church.
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Debate @ Scottish Parliament on Climate Change Bill

On Wednesday and Thursday 6/7 May there will be a debate in the
Scottish Parliament on the Climate Change Bill. In conjunction with Stop Climate Chaos, Eco-Congregations and the Church of Scotland are encouraging MSPs
to contribute to the debate and to stress the vital need for public involvement if the Bill is to be effective. We are particularly concerned that communities across Scotland are insufficiently aware of the critical importance of climate change, the Climate Change Bill or the need to take action to respond to climate change.

In the twenty first century climate change is already changing lives. The actions required to put the Climate Change Bill into effect are enormous. Without the active commitment and participation of people and communities across Scotland there is no likelihood that the Scottish Parliament will achieve its target of an 80% reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases by 2050. And to build commitment and participation in communities across Scotland, the Scottish Government will need to provide leadership and support. The Church of Scotland set out these points in its submission to the committee.

Many other organisations made similar comments; including Stop Climate Chaos; Unison; Energy Saving Trust; The Salvation Army; CBI; Confederation of Passenger Transport UK; and the Scottish Youth Parliament. The Stage 1 Report of the committee recognises this and calls upon the Scottish Government to act:

“The Committee recommends that Ministers bring forward proposals for an engagement strategy as part of their implementation plan for the Bill, which is discussed further in a later section of this report.”

We are asking MSPs to

• Recognise that community involvement and action on climate change are vital if the Scottish Parliament is to meet its target of an 80% reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases by 2050
• Contribute to the debate by asking the Scottish Government to explain how it will engage communities in this challenge
• Consider the need to incorporate an amendment to the Bill to achieve proper community engagement
• Let us know what you have done


• is a growing movement of over 200 congregations across Scotland
• includes representatives from nine different denominations
• currently receives financial support from the Church of Scotland and Scottish Episcopal Church.


…by developing a simple calculator to allow congregations to measure their own carbon footprint. We are now piloting this with churches and will make it available to all congregations in 2009.

We believe that Eco-Congregations should be at the heart of community action to cut Scotland’s carbon footprint. Supporting congregations is an effective way to help achieve the Scottish Government target of an 80% reduction in the emission of Scottish greenhouse gases by 2050.


Eco-Congregations have already demonstrated their effectiveness as a movement lobbying for environmental action. There are now eco-congregations in most parts of Scotland; MSPs will probably have one or more in their area. More details are available at the Eco-Congregation website below. There are now local networks in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perthshire and Stirling and other networks are under development.

We are urging Eco-congregations to contact MSPs about the Climate Change Bill. Ring us at the numbers below for further information, local contacts or a more detailed briefing.

Credits The picture of the Scottish Parliament windows was taken by GaryJD
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