Thursday, 23 December 2010

Eaarth: making a life in a tough new planet

Bill McKibben has written a really interesting book entitled EAARTH: MAking a Life in a Touch new Planet  addressing climate change issues. His main premise is that we have altered the climate to such an extent that the earth is no longer as it once was and therefore we should call it by a new name. he suggests EAARTH. This change of name is in recognition of the impact that humans have had on the planet. Although this idea is not new since it was first proposed by Paul Crutzen, who suggested that our current geological epoch should be labelled "anthropocene" to "emphasize the central role of mankind in geology and ecology". 

McKibben's book is particularly interesting becuase he looks at the likely changes that might happen to the earth if we fail to stabilize concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at 450 parts per million or below. He was instrumental in the development of the "" group which campaigns for the stabilisation of concetrations of carbon dioxide at 350 parts per million. Sadly, it is not possible anymore to do so since the current overall level is around 435 parts per million, but McKibben argues that if we "keep on as usual" the earth might reach significant rises in global temperature where for example, some areas of the world might become deserts, whilest others might be totally flooded. The redrawing of the map where people could live would cause major economic and social conflicts. The full review of mcKibben's book can be accessed at the New York Review of Books.

McKibbn's book has great ability to communicate the facts and although sometimes the approach is far too much directed to a US audience, it is very much worthwhile reading material if you are wondering why are we covered in snow, when there is supposed to be global warming.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Eco-congregation Scotland has a new member of staff

Gordon Hudson has been appointed as the first manager of Eco-Congregation Scotland. The post has been made possible with the generous support of the Scottish Government.

Gordon will be taking on the challenge of growing Eco-Congregation Scotland and helping eco-congregations across Scotland to take action to care for the earth. The number of congregations who have registered as Eco-Congregation has now grown to more than 260 since its launch less that a decade ago. In this short time it has become the largest network of community based environment groups in Scotland. Fund raising and building up a membership and supporters scheme will be priorities for 2011.

Rev. Ewan Aitken, Convener of the Board of Eco-Congregation Scotland said:

“I am delighted to welcome Gordon to this new job. Eco-congregations in Scotland have demonstrated tremendous enthusiasm to make a difference in their churches and in their communities. Gordon brings proven fund raising and managerial skills to support and resource this work. We are particularly pleased that with this support from the Scottish Government we will be able to help congregations respond more effectively to the challenge of climate change.”

Gordon can be contacted at

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Scottish Hydro offers Edinburgh shoppers

++ Photocall with free mince pies and hot chocolate on Thursday 9 December 16:30++ 6 December 2010

Dreaming of a green Christmas this year? Scottish Hydro has teamed up with Scottish Business in the Community to show everyone just how easy it is to celebrate Christmas in true traditional and green fashion and still save money, as they open the doors of their Eco Zone in St James’ Centre.

The Eco Zone, located towards the rear of the St James Centre, is the place to be for those of us interested in saving a few pounds this Christmas. In the window, there’s a super-sized advent calendar that will be revealing useful eco tips every day in the run up to Christmas – such as how to convert old posters and maps into wrapping paper, and what to do with your left over turkey.

Once inside, everyone is invited to get on the saddle to make sure they keep the fairy lights twinkling, as The Eco Zone will be showcasing Scottish Hydro’s pedal-powered Christmas tree – a very first for the shopping centre. The Eco-Zone will also have the latest eco- goodies on sale - ideal for environmentally friendly stocking fillers.

This Thursday evening, 5 golden tickets worth £50 to spend in the Eco Zone are up for grabs! To be in with a chance of winning, customers should be at the zone at 5pm to pick up their free reusable shopper bags, as the golden tickets have been randomly hidden in the stash.

Scottish Hydro’s Christmas Co-ordinator, Nicky Madill explains why the company is helping host this year’s Eco Zone: “We want everyone to enjoy themselves this Christmas, but we’re also keen to show that enjoying yourself doesn’t have to cost the Earth. We’re inviting Edinburgh shoppers to take a few minutes away from the hustle and bustle of their shopping, pop into our Eco Zone and see some of the ways they can save money and still have a good time this Christmas. I’m really looking forward to this Thursday night, when we’ll be holding our Golden Ticket draw, as well as handing out free mince pies and hot chocolate for everyone from 5pm. It’s sure to be busy, so make sure you get down early!”

The Eco Zone will also be hosting a series of free workshops from now until Christmas. On 18 December, there will be a free wrapping session, led by one of the country's leading experts who will be helping people learn how to get creative with their wrapping skills without having to spend a fortune. There's also an introduction to eco-cracker making, offering ideas on how to make your own crackers from recycled materials and even free massages on 23 December to help everyone unwind, just in time for the big day.

As well as this there will be carol singing, free internet access with Christmas computer games and lots of fun in the Eco Zone – making it the perfect place for the whole family to pop into for a break between the shopping.

Press office: 0845 0760 530

Nicola Madill and Duncan MacDonald


Wednesday, 8 December 2010


We shall be posting from time to time poems that are dealing with the environment and with our responsibilities in the care of creation. Please let me know if you have any poems that you would like to submit.

We are indebted to Tessa Ransford for suggesting this wonderful poem .  Not Just Moonshine, Luath Press, is Tessa's new and selected poems from four decades published in 2008. The book can be found at selected bookstores. You can find more information about Tessa on her  website. .


(news report: an iceberg the size of Hong Kong floats past the African coast)

Ahoy there, ahoy!

moored to Antarctica
over aeons
the rope broke and I drifted

no race round the world
I drip my ice-locked time
as I sail and melt

soon I’ll swim in the Mediterranean
and block the Suez canal

my waters will flow as judgement
a mighty stream in the desert

ahoy there in the shopping aisles
and the shipping lanes

don’t you see now

the planet floats like the Titanic in space
and can sink, can be utterly wrecked


Tessa Ransford

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

EU's perspective and action plan in Cancun

Funding to help developing countries address issues of climate change will be one of the key issues discussed in the Cancun climate change conference. According to Euroactiv, the EU will present a fast-start finance report at the talks, showing that in 2010, it mobilised €2.2bn from the promised total of €7.2bn to be delivered over the next three years. The expectation is that other developed countries will follow this EU iniitiative.

The rule on monitoring reporting and verification of emission reductions, and the transfer of technology to developing countries to deal with climate change is also one of the key issues to be discussed, but concrete outcomes will depend on the availability of funds. It seems that the expectations for these talks are much more measured when compared to the excitement of the Copenhagen talks, and this is reflected in the apparently slower number of key political figures traveling to the Mexican resort.

The development of a proposed "Green Fund" which would provide funding for developing countries to confront the challenges of climate change. The kernel idea for the Green Fund has been around since 2008. It is now  been endorsed by the International Monetary Fund.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Series on Climate change issues in Developing Countries

The BBC has been doing a series on Climate Change. They are interviewing scientists as well as ordinary people on their perceptions of climate change. the series is going to different parts of the world to see how people in different cultures are coping with the changes in their environment. This issue is looking at people's perceptions in developing countries that climate change is an act of God. It is a very interesting series. Have a look.

Friday, 19 November 2010

EU Climate Aid delivered by the EU to Developing Countries.

At the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009,  developed countries agreed as part of the Copenhagen Accord to provide climate aid to developing countries to help them counteract some of the effects of climate change in their regions. The list of countries and amounts pledged is available here.

The EU has just announced as part of a fast-start report to be presented at the Climate Change Conference in Cancun later in November, that it has delivered 2.2 billion Euros to help developing countries cut emissions and adapt to climate change between 2010 and 2012. However the EU is actually falling short of its pledged commitments to finance climate chainge aid. A number of EU countries have not yet delivered  their pledges or are attempting to renounce the commitments pledged at Copenhagen alleging the financial crisis. Italy in particular has renoucned its committment and is no loger included in the updated list of donors.

The report shows that almost half of the EU funding in 2010 went to mitigation to help poor countries cut their emissions by adopting low-carbon technologies and a third went to adaptation projects. A further €362 million was allocated to forest protection. However over half of the finance was delivered in loans and only €1.05bn in grants, according to the report. Climate finance will be a key topic for negotiation at the Cancun conference. The UN  commissioned a report on climate change financing which recognises the scale and the urgency of  supporting and financing mitigation measures in developing countries.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Guidelines to protect wildlife from wind farms

Guidelines have been issued by the EU to protect wildlife from possible effects of windfarms. These guidelines are to be implemented in the EU Natura 2000 network of protected sites. Euroactiv has announced that the new guidelines have been issues specifically to protect vulnerable species and habitats in 26,000 sites accross Europe which comprise the EU Natura 2000 network. These guidelines are in agreement with the EU's Habitats and Birds Directives. It is important to recognise that wind farms are an important contributor to the EU's energy mix therefore manufacturers of wind turbines should be aware of these guidelines.

Some of the potential impacts on birds and bats are collisions, habitat loss, or the alteration of migration or foraging paths because of the turbines.

Friday, 5 November 2010

The EU laggs behind in the reduction of energy consumption

The EU commission presented an action plan for energy efficiency covering 10 priority areas as far back as 2006. The plan included things like standards for energy-efficiency in equipments such as boilers, copiers and lighting. The plan also included new energy standards for buildings and legislation to limit the CO2 emissions from cars. However the plan was not implemented and a re-draft is currently being worked on.

EuroActiv has indicated that the long awaited plan will not be ready until February 2011. Leaked documents from the new plan acknowledge that the EU will not reach its 20% reduction in energy consumption by 2020 and that in fact, only half that figure might be attained.

The new plan to be unveiled next year includes a strategy for five areas: buildngs, transport, industry, the energy sector and the public sector.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Partnership between the Reformed Church in Hungary and the Kirk

The Church of Scotland recently hosted a delegation from the Reformed Church in Hungary. The Hungarians came to the UK under the sponsorship of  the ECEN Eco-Management group which propomotes the development of twinning partnerships between churches in Europe with an Eco-Management ethos. ECEN also promotes the twinning of churches who would like to develop an eco management approach to their activities. The Hungarian delegation visited different Councils within the Church of Scotland and an agreement has been signed between both organisations. The low-down of the agreement is a project for the development and promotion of eco-congregations in Hungary.

The main goal of the project is to adapt the“Eco-congregation” programme to Hungarian church life, and to sensitize Hungarian churches and church members to care for creation in a self-supporting way. The Reformed Church in Hungary committs itself to develop and promote eco-management programs in Hungarian congregations and other church institutions since up to now, isolated programs and projects have been accomplished in the church, but the increasing need for environmental provision has prompted  them to establish a wide-ranging initiative of church environmental activities in Hungary. The project has established the following outputs by 2012.
Exchange information on activities and facilities within both countries
Import and adapt ideas from “Eco-Congregation Scotland” project, 
Form an Advisory Council in Hungary to help congregations to make the link between environmental issues and Christian faith both in spiritual and practical life,
Organise conferences in Hungary on the Christian eco-management, 
Establish a Hungarian homepage and printing leaflets to disseminate eco-congregation facilities, 
Translate relevant materials from
Establish an Eco-Congregation Award Scheme in Hungary.
Congratulations on the agreement. This opens up great prospects of cooperation between churches in Hungary and Scotland.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Biomass Power Plant Applications

Forth Energy, a company formed by Scottish and Southern Energy and Forth Ports plc, has recently submitted planning applications to develop biomass powered energy plants at the ports of Dundee, Grangemouth, Leith and Rosyth. These power stations would have a total energy capacity of up to 500MW. Because of the large bulk of wood fuel required the four sites are all in port locations and it would appear that the greater part of this wood fuel will be imported from overseas by ship. Details of the applications can be found on the forth energy website. 

Wood fuel can be a sustainable source of energy if the wood that is used is being supplied from sustainably managed forests, or if the fuel is coming from another reasonable source such as the waste stream.  It can provide a contribution to Scotland’s overall energy mix and could help reduce Scotland’s carbon footprint.  Forth Energy argue that the proposals will help meet Scottish Government targets for renewable energy and heat, and contribute towards the long term ambition of reducing Scotland’s emission of greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050. The plants would generate both electricity and could, if arrangements were put in place, provide heat for a district heating scheme.  Biomass plants are not new, there is already one at Steven's Croft near Lockerbie in Dumfries and Galloway . The plant can produce 44MW of electricity and is currently the biggest biomass plant in Scotland.  The £90m scheme was opened by First Minister, Alex Salmond, in March 2008.  The plant can burn up to 475,000 tons of wood fuel a year, most of which is sourced locally.  The new plants proposed by Forth Energy would be substantially larger than the Lockerbie plant.

However, although the technology is not new, several questions come to mind:

• Will district heating systems be put in place or will the plants be just electricity generating stations?

• All the proposed plants are in built up areas: is this the right location for new power stations?
• Is the scale of the proposed plants appropriate or are they too big to be ‘sustainable’?
• Where will the wood fuel come from: what is the carbon footprint of importing fuel from as far way as North America or Russia and can this be called a sustainable source?
• What will be the impact of harvesting wood fuel and will the wood be from forests accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)?

Opposition to the Plants. There has been some opposition to these proposals, particularly the plant in Leith as a a joint letter to the Scottish Government.  The signatories do not object to biomass powered energy plants in principle but do object to the scale of the Leith proposal.  Details of the letter and its signatories can be found at the Greener Leith website.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland debated energy generation at its meeting in May 2007. The report of the Church and Society Council discussed the energy options facing Scotland and identified two preferred options to help reduce Scotland’s carbon footprint: the development of renewable energy and the promotion of energy efficiency measures. The same report was much more critical of coal fired power plants and, on this basis, the Church opposed the proposal to develop a new coal fired power station at Hunterston in Ayrshire. The Church has not objected to the biofuel proposals submitted by Forth Energy as they appear to be consistent with the deliverances of the General Assembly. However the Kirk is  aware of the concerns of local and national groups, including members of congregations.

Get Involved. Adrian Shaw, climate change oficer therefore urges  members of congregations to learn more about the proposals and get involved in the debate. You can do this in a number of ways, says Adrian, for example, you can

• Exercise your influence on the market in your choice of energy supplier, in the products you buy as a consumer, in your investments or pension. Participate as a shareholder in company AGMs.
• Get involved in the planning process for local energy developments; become informed and play a pro-active role in shaping the developments.
• Use your democratic right to influence government. Get involved locally and nationally by asking questions, lobbying, and using your vote.

Check the websites listed above for details about the proposed developments and the opponents, and get involved in the debate!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Visit from members of the Reformed Church of Hungary

Members of the Reformed Church of Hungary visited the Church of Scotland offices in Edinburgh last week and had a chance to meet with members of the Climate Change project, as well as with the Convener and the Secretary of the Council. A number of cooperation possibilities were discussed with the view for an eventual cooperation agreement. It was very instructive to have their visit and have first hand information of the extent of grassroot involvement in environmental issues stemming from churches in Hungary.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Sludge Flood in Hungary

lg sludgeA flood of sludge from a bloken reservoir in an alumina plant has created a state of alert in Hungary. some people received severe burns and unfortunately there were some caualties as the waste, resulting from the refining of bauxite sewpt through several villages including Kolontar. Cars were swept off the road as the estimated 700 000 cubic meters of red sludge made its way through villages in the regions of Veszprém, Győr-Moson-Sopron and Vas counties, which are now in a state of emergency. measures are being taken to stop the refuse to enter the Danube. For the full story, please go to the following link.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Manager for Eco-congregation/Job Advert

EcoCongregations scotnad is looking for a full time manager's position.

Help eco-congregations make a big difference by providing inspired leadership and sound business sense!
Objectives of the post:

  • Helping create greener congregations
  • Ensure we deliver on our charitable objectives – including reducing our carbon footprint and achieving Scottish Government climate change targets
  • Help make us more commercially sound
  • Increase income from church denominations, related funds and congregations
  • Set up a supporters scheme to optimise support and raise awareness

Eco-Congregation Scotland is a growing movement of over 250 churches across Scotland – both small and large, Protestant and Catholic. Together we’re working to help care for the earth. And as an ecumenical charity, we help eco-congregations understand environmental issues, so that they can in turn take practical action and a spiritual response. No small task, we’re looking for an experienced manager who can really help us grow.

Particulars of the post:
  • You’ll have experience of working in the third sector
  •  You will be passionate about the environment and our cause
  •  You will have a proven track record of achieving successful growth
  •  You will be an inspired people manager 
To obtain further information please call 0131 240 2249 (24 hour answering service) or email

Closing date: 22 October 2010. 
Find out more about Eco-Congregation Scotland at: .
Eco-Congregation Scotland is a Scottish Charity, No. SC041287

Friday, 24 September 2010

Scottish and Bangladeshi churches team up on climate change | Christian News on Christian Today

Have a look at the write-up on Christian Today about the work that the church of scotland and the Bangladeshi church are doing in the area of climate change. the full report will be available shortly on the Eco-Congregation Scotland website and the Church of Scotland website as well.

Scottish and Bangladeshi churches team up on climate change Christian News on Christian Today

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Artwork against Hunterston Power Station

Subject: Sand art event on Irvine beach, Monday, September 27th, 9am - 2.30pm

Hi all,
We're excited to announce that  Monday 27th September,  renowned sand artist Jamie Wardley will be creating a massive work of art on Irvine beach in North Ayrshire as part of the Say No To Hunterston Power Station campaign.

The event will run all morning, but if you want to see Jamie's picture, you'd better be quick! It'll be finished by 11am, and almost immediately, the tide will start to reclaim it. It will all be gone by about 2.30pm.

If you'd like to come along, either to watch or to help out, you are very welcome. Volunteers are needed on Irvine beach from 8am to help Jamie draw the picture (just reply to this message to let us know you'd like to help), or you could get creative and take part in the sand art competition.  If you're coming along, you can write your own name in the picture. If you cannot come but would still like to take part, join campaign against Hunterston on Facebook. you will soon receive an invitation and instructions, to get your name written in the sand as part of the artwork!

Hope to see you there...

Friday, 17 September 2010

The development of the "Green Fund"

Mexico will host in November of this year an annual UN climate meeting. This is one of the meetings scheduled as a result of the minimalist accord reached in Copenhagen which stated that deep cuts in global emissions will be required to maintain global temperatures below 2 degrees centigrate. The Copenhagen Accord stated that countries would take action in reducing their emmissions, but did not provide any teeth to enforce such cuts. On September 3rd, 50 countries started moving towards the development of a "Green Fund" to finance activities within developing countries to fight the impacts of global warming. Estimates of financing circle around $100 billion a year from 2020 onwards;  however as European countries tackle austerity programmes, the sums pledged are far smaller and there seems to be a move away from speaking about public funding, and instead address the issue through private funding via selling bonds in global capital markets. the International Monetary Fund has been involved in presenting proposals for the development of such a fund.

Who is Who in Climate Change?

Professor Steve Yearley, Director of the ESRC Genomics Policy & Research Forum, and a member of Edinburgh University's staff has been invited to serve as an international adviser to the American Sociological Association's ‘Task Force on Sociology and Global Climate Change’. The Task Force was established in February 2010 to produce a report applying a sociological analysis to the issue of climate change. prof. yearlye is the author of numerous books on climate change and sociology most notably Sociology, Environmentalism, Globalization which focuses on the construction of the global environment as a topic for campaigning. Using detailed analyses of the global impacts of climate change and ozone depletion, Steve shows how the "global-ness" of environmental problems is made, contested and resolved. He analyses the politics of the use of the 'global' label and shows how the recognition of global environmental problems is the outcome of diplomatic, scientific and economic struggles. One of his other books, The Green Case: A Sociology of Environmental Arguments, Issues and Politics provides a comprehensive and objective account of the basis of "green" arguments and their social and political implications.

Monday, 13 September 2010

World Water Week

World Water Week met in Stockholm from the 5th to the 11th of September. The conference was organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). The conference addresses issues related to water management, water pollution and climate change. Lack of water and sanitation is a main cause of poverty, therefore it is extremely important to address issues of water provision and sanitation, particularly in developing countries. Water management is also crucial to address issues of hunger. If more land gets flooded, there is far less opportunity to farm and harvest. It is therefore crucial to address water management issues when speaking about climate change.

In this year's conference the issue of water pollution was in focus. Apparently over 70% of industrialised waste is still being pupmed into rivers in developed countries and 2 million tonnes of human waste are dumped into watercourses worldwide every day. The pollution in our water sources is on the increase. According to SIWI there is an "invisible threat" of nano particles, chemiclas and pharmaceutical residues enter our sewage system. These pollutants can be linked to health problems in fish as well as humans. Read more about it in the EuroActiv website.

Monday, 6 September 2010

The Climate Change Debate: uncertain climate

Have you ever wondered on the role that the media has played on the climate change debate. BBC Radio 4 has been running a very interesting programme on the subject. the series is hosted by Roger Harrabin, environmental analyst of the BBC.  The series touches not just on the role of the media, but also on the scientific debate. It is worth listening to it. You can listen again by clicking here

Friday, 3 September 2010

Consumers in dark as light bulb phase-out continues | EurActiv

Consumers in dark as light bulb phase-out continues EurActiv

Everyone has been experiencing the phase out of non-efficient energy light bulbs. But do you know what to do with them? Do we just throw them away? do we place them with glass? This article presents some of the issues behind the disposable of these items.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Sanctuary First Prayers for Creation: check it out!

I stumbled upon this website on prayers written collaboratively by Christians. the prayers are modern, written by ordinary people. The month of August is dedicated to Creation and the Environment. This is what they say about themselves.

Sancturay First is written for and by Christians who want to be passionate about daily worship but we know how easy it is to lose heart and fall by the wayside. We at Sanctuary First just want to be honest as we grow in our faith. We don’t want to be ‘over the top Christians’ who fall off the edge, instead we want to recognise that we won’t always get it right but if we journey as a group of companions with Jesus at the centre he will save us from ourselves.Some of the prayers are really thoughtprovoking. Have a look.

'Wild capitalism' destroying habitats in Bulgaria | EurActiv

The destruction of protected natural habitats is happening practically unchecked in Bulgaria, according to the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds. They have called on the EU to examine cases where specially protected habitats are being decimated for the construction of tourist resourts. In a way this is like a double whamy. Tourists fly to Bulgaria and then spend their holiday time in a resort constructed over what should have been a protected area.
'Wild capitalism' destroying habitats in Bulgaria EurActiv
Should our faith come into play when chosing where to spend our holidays?

Monday, 16 August 2010

CreationTime 2010

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI)  have just put on line an excellent set of resources for worship in ‘Creationtime’ 2010 (1 September – 4 October).  the resources are divided in the following sections:

  • Sermon notes based on the Lectionary readings for the 5 Sundays
  • A keynote sermon on the theme, and other sermons
  • Prayers of intercession
  • Resources for children's groups and schools
  • Group study ideas
  • Biodiversity FAQs - for churches
  • A range of other liturgical material

 It would be really good if  all eco-congregations to use these materials. They are, of course  of interest  to all congregations. Please email us or write us a comment if you have used them.

Hunterston Coal Fired Power Station

The Scottish Government is currently considering a planning application from Ayrshire Energy to build a new coal fired power station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire. The application refers to the installation of ‘carbon capture and storage’ at the plant but this technology is untried and untested at this scale and is very unlikely to be fitted at the outset. If it were to go ahead the plant would create carbon dioxide emissions at such a scale as to wipe out any savings we are asking congregations to make, probably many times over. This would make a mockery of the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Act and the challenge we are setting to congregations. Congregations near the development, such as that at Fairlie are deeply concerned about the proposal.

There is wide opposition to this development; Ian Galloway, the Convener of the Church and Society Council, expressed his opposition to this development You can find out more about the application at the Scottish Government website. Information about local objections to this development can be read here. A number of other groups in membership of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland such as Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth Scotland, RSPB and WWF are strongly opposed to the proposal and have details on their websites, including on line actions. You can find out more information about opposition to the coal station by following the following links Christian Aid, Action for Scotland , RSPB, and the WWF.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The Importance of Biodiversity

We are very fortunate in being able to publish on the blog, this small article by Elizabeth Hay, from Cults Parish Church. Cults has recently won an Eco-Congregations award.

“From so simple a beginning endless forms so beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being evolved.”

These are the words of Charles Darwin whose life was celebrated last year. 2010 celebrates these endless forms in the International Year of Bio-Diversity. What is Bio-diversity? It is the whole variety of life on Earth, not just butterflies, birds and plants but also micro-organisms like bacteria and plankton, as well as species we call “pests”. They are all essential pieces of the web of life. Bio-diversity is a basic part of the Earth’s life support systems. We depend on it for fertile soil, fresh water and clean air.

Textile fibres, dyes, building materials, adhesives, oil and rubber all come from biological sources. It is not something you can ignore. It affects all areas of our lives. Fifty percent of pharmaceutical drugs come from plants. Plankton provides almost half the oxygen we breathe. Trees help lock up carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. This reduces the harmful effects of climate change.

Since the early 20th Century almost half the UK’s ancient woodlands have been cut down. When you consider that one oak tree can support up to five hundred species, this leads to a huge loss of bio-diversity. The loss of this variety of life endangers not just our physical bodies but also our spiritual wellbeing. In her book “Silent Spring” Rachel Carson wrote, “There is something infinitely healing in the refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night and spring after winter.” Why are we losing Bio-diversity at such a rate? There are three major reasons. Human population has doubled in the last fifty years and is projected to rise to nine billion by 2050. This puts huge pressure on the earth’s limited resources. Pollution of land, air, oceans and rivers continues to be a problem in almost every country of the world. Thirdly, communities of plants and animals are being destroyed by changes in the way we use land.

At the Earth Summit in Rio de Janiero our government signed up to halting the loss of Bio-diversity in this country by 2010. This has not happened. In the face of apparently insurmountable problems, what can we as individuals and in communities of faith do? We can, as is often quoted, live simply that others may simply live. What better example of this do we have than Christ himself?

We can look after areas locally such as the familiar places where we walk, cycle, run and exercise our pets. We can learn more about how the natural world works and discover its astonishing beauty and complexity. We can all reduce waste so that valuable places for wildlife are not lost to landfill. We can grow native trees and plants, erect nest boxes for birds and create homes for insects. Be encouraged by Christ’s Parable of the Mustard see where very small beginnings can lead to much greater things. There is much in the Christian and other faiths which honour, respect and care for the sacred mystery of the natural world. All living things are part of the Web of Life and undeniably and inescapably we are part of it. What matters more than the biodiversity of the world upon which we all depend?

Monday, 9 August 2010

Ban on illegal timber within EU

The European Parliament approved in early July of this year to close EU markets to illegal timbers. The EU has been interested in this issue since 2003, but the approach then centred on voluntary partnership agreements between the EU and timber producing countries. however, these voluntary agreements proved not very succesful and this year the EU has issued legislation against illigally harvested timber that covers from logging to products delivered to the final consumer within the EU. More information on this is available here.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico

I bumped accross this video taken recently off the coasts of Louisiana detaling the extent fo the clean-up operations. Aparently it is difficult to monitor the cleaning operations becuase there is a large restricted area. However this airplane managed to go beyond the approved zone and filemd the extent of the devastation and the "clean-up". Have a look.

Monday, 5 July 2010

EU Climate Change commissioner proposes a Carbon Tax

Commissioner Connie Hedegaard proposed a tax on what you burn and threw her weight behind an EU carbon tax. This approach is spelled out in the EU's Energy Taxation Directive. This approach will colour Europe's efforts to stay ahead of the game in international climate negotiations.

On 26 May 2010, Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard presented a communication analysing the options for increasing the EU's emissions reduction target from 20% from 1990 levels by 2020 to 30%. It concluded that the recession had brought down the cost of reducing emissions significantly, and meeting a 30% target would cost just €11bn more than the estimate for 20% envisaged two years ago (EurActiv 27/05/10).

Hedegaard was speaking in a session dedicated to climate change. Hedegaard thinks that energy taxation can provide a lot of positive results. The commissioner argued that a shift from taxing labour to taxing energy would encourage people to stay longer in the job market and find ways to finance Europe's "relatively expensive welfare societies". For instance, this tax could encourage the agriculture sector to explore possibilities like biogas.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Importing Solar Energy from the Sahara

The EU contemplates importing solar generated electricity from the Sahara within the next 5 years. Günther Oettinger European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said in an interview on Sunday that the EU is hoping to reach its long-term goal of de-carbonising its economy by topping up domestic renewable energy production with solar electricity imports from North Africa. The EU has been investing heavily into alternative energy projects of which
Desertec Industrial Initiative is one of the most prominent. Desertec was launched in July 2009 by 12 companies who agreed to establish financing plans to develop solar projects in the Sahara Desert (EurActiv 22/07/09). The €400 billion project aims to eventually provide 15% of Europe's electricity needs with solar power imported via a high-voltage cable. Please go to the EuroActive website for more information.
Photo of solar pannel by GreenlaGirl

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Stories needed

We would like to showcase stories form Eco Congregations in their strives to reduce their carbon footprint.

Congregations new to the mouvement, might feel that it is impossible to reduce their carbon footprint but, we know that there is plenty of evidence to show that it is possible to have a year on year reduction. please, if you have a tip on how to reeuce the carbon footprint of your church, post it up in our Church and Society Facebook group page.

Eco Congregation's Impact Overseas

A number of Church of Scotland congregations abroad have responded very favourably to the challenge of reducing their carbon footprint by 5% every year. The Climate Change Project has received the calculators from the churches in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Gibraltar and Valletta in Malta. All of these congregations have made a commitment to reduce their carbon footprint every year by 5% in agreement with the instruction of the 2009 General Assembly.

It is really encouraging to see that Eco-Congregation's work is having an impact on overseas congregations.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Wind Farms for Scotland

The Scotsman is running an article where Scottish people apparently favour wind farms over nuclear technology. EDP ran a survey in YouGov asking about preferred sources of technology and Scottish people favoured wind farms. More than eight out of ten Scots backed offshore wind farms and 69 per cent were in favour of onshore turbines. Similarly, when questioned about different energy sources for producing electricity, 74 per cent said their impression of wind farms was favourable, compared to just 43 per cent for nuclear.

However, the overall position in the UK concerning and active interest in climate change has significantly decreased from 80% in 2006 to 62% in 2010. the results are based on a sample of 4300 adults.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Hinduism and Ecology

The United Nations has declared 2010 international year for biological diversity. On Saturday, the Living Planet Foundation convened what was believed to be the first global "green" Hindu event, calling on Hindus from the UK and abroad to reflect on how they can contribute to preserving biodiversity worldwide. It was a celebration of the rich abundance of distinct plant and animal species across our planet, and a campaign to draw attention to the threats facing the diversity of life on earth.

Read more at:

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Water Scarcity in Europe

Addressing water efficiency in farming, which accounts for two thirds of EU water use, should be one of the priorities in reforming the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). This was suggested by the head of the European Commission's water unit. The EU has comissioned a report addressing the use of water resources particulalry in agriculture accross EU. The report shows that some member states have begun to suffer "permanent scarcity across the whole country". While the pressure point is currently in the south, with Cyprus experiencing the severest water shortages, the Commission expects water stress to spread to South-East and Central Europe. However the problem is not confined to the mediterranean and central european region, water shortages have also been detected in France and Belgium.

The EU's Water Framework Directive (WFD) already requires member states to introduce water-pricing policies with incentives for efficient water use, but little progress has been made so far.

Picture of water drop by Darkpatator.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

EU Funding available for energy efficiency and sustainable energy projects in European cities and regions.

The EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger has pointed out that at least €115 million in unused funds will be available to support sustainable enery and energy efficiency projects in European cities and regions. He stated he would push for a significant percentage to support local and urban energy projects. "I would expect a serious leverage effect from these funds", he added. Paul Bevan, secretary-general of city lobby Eurocities, told EurActiv that while the proposed funds were "rather little, and rather late," they could nevertheless make a huge difference."Cities are desperate to act," he argued, though it is not yet clear when this new fund could be set up.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Land Use Change

The European Community has received a report prepared by the International Food Policy Research Institute on global trade and the environmental impact of the EU Biofuels Mandate. Biofuel development has been supported as a way to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels and it has been seen as a good source of income for farmers particularly in developing countries and a significant reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to non-renewable fuel sources. Some countries like Malaysia, Argentina, Brazil and Tanzania have invested significantly in the redeployment of land for the growth of biofuels. However, there have been recent criticisms over the perceived positive impact of biofuels on food production and overall use and redelopyemnt of land. It seems that in some instances the indirect land use change (ILUC) can actually release more carbon emissions as forests and pristine lands are converted to cropland due to biofuel expansion. This has led to the current debate over whether, and how, the ILUC effects should be accounted for, along with the direct land use change effects, in evaluating the potential impact of biofuel policies.

Major producers of buifuels, on the other hand, are arguing in favour of their direct involvement prior to the development of bio-fuel ILUC policies at a European level.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Water conservation

According to a study sponsored by the EU, it is possible to reduce water consumption by 40% through a combination of technology and changes in human behaviour. Legislative measures were included in the Commission's 2007 Communication on Water Scarcity and Droughts, which considered a series of e measures such as the inclusion of water efficiency criteria in performance standards for buildings. The potential for water savings in the EU is estimated at 40%. Binding rules could be envisaged to promote water savings in public and private buildings," states the EU executive in its work programme for 2010.

Credits Thanks are due to Helsinki51 for the picture of the watertap.

Friday, 9 April 2010

The Influence of Black Carbon on the Himalayas

Black carbon seems to be responsible for about 16% of climate change globally. Most people encounter balck carbon as soot. According to Surabi Menon, a scientist from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory airborne black carbon aerosols, or soot, from India is a major contributor to the decline in snow and ice cover on the glaciers. For more information please follow this link.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

CSV Action Earth 2010

Robert Henderson, from SCV Action Earth was kind enough to passs this information about available grants.

Please find below information about the CSV Action Earth campaign which runs from
1st March until 31st July 2010.

We want to empower people to take action in their community. To do this, we have two different grants to give to groups of volunteers who are carrying out local environment projects or who are improving biodiversity in Scotland. As 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity, there is no better time to get involved.

1. Our SNH Biodiversity Awards of £250 are aimed at groups that support and encourage Scottish Biodiversity through practical conservation and environmental projects. You can also apply for additional Action Earth grants (below).
2. Our easy-to-access CSV Action Earth awards of £50 help projects to purchase plants, tools and materials and to cover volunteer expenses. Projects have included pond and woodland clearances, litter picks, planting projects and habitat creation (e.g bird, bat and insect boxes). You can apply for up to 3 of these for different projects on different dates.
Please go to for more information on both grants. You can download application forms from here or apply online.

Please register as early as possible (especially for events at the end of the campaign) as awards are handed out on a first come basis. We will also send out emailed updates to registered projects on additional sources of funding, both large and small scale, that will help you in maintaining and enhancing your work. We are grateful to SNH and Morrisons for their support.

We do hope that you will be able to participate in the campaign. Please contact Robert henderson directly if you have any questions about the campaign or your planned project. Please also forward this document to any groups or individuals you think may be interested in applying. Contact detauils are as follows:

Robert Henderson
Scottish Coordinator
CSV Action Earth
12 Torphichen Street
T: 0131 222 9083 or 0131 622 7766

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Eco-Congregation Scotland achieves Charity Status

We are pleased to announce that Eco-Congregation Scotland has recently become a charity. This was announced on Saturday March 20th during the Eco-Congregation Scotland Annual Gathering 2010 which took place in Stirling Baptist Church. For more information, please follow this link. Congratulations to the Eco-Congregation Scotland team!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Scots Kirk in Paris is an Eco-Congregation

The Scots Kirk Paris is a Church of Scotland congregation outside the boundaries of Scotland – one of the fourteen Churches of Scotland in the Presbytery of Europe. Our congregation is not limited to Scots but consists of people of many different nationalities and backgrounds. Some of the congregation are long-term members, having made France their home, whereas others have come to Paris to work or study for a fixed period of time before moving on to work / live elsewhere.
There has been a Church of Scotland in Paris for well over 100 years, most of that time on our current site at 17, rue Bayard. Having suffered damage during the war, the church was rebuilt in the 1950s. Unfortunately, serious structural problems became apparent in the 1980s and after many years of investigating possible solutions to the problem, a project to build a new church was approved and our current building opened its doors in 2002. We are fortunate in that our modern building has been designed to conform to many “green” principles. One of the constraints imposed on us was that a certain proportion of the surface area be devoted to a patio and garden area. So although we are a stone’s throw from the Champs Elysées, we have a small “haven of peace”, undisturbed by the noise of traffic. As you can see from the photo, a robin has found refuge on the bird table installed on a tree in the garden at the back of the patio!

Last year our congregation decided to register as an Eco-congregation with the idea of trying to follow up the Eco-modules and gradually introduce new ideas and small changes into our congregational and private lives. We have a small group of four people who meet a few times a year, check on our progress as Eco-congregation and plan ahead.

What started out as one person's initiative has turned into a collective and conscious effort throughout all levels in our church. The young and not so young, the nature-lovers and city dwellers and the creative and practical people are all doing their part to look after this glorious God given world. How?

1. By reducing energy consumption. Ex: the use of low energy light bulbs, lowering
the overall room temperature by 1 degree, switching off unnecessary lights and
keeping doors shut to avoid heat loss.

2. By making a conscious effort to sort rubbish properly and putting it into the relevant bins.

3. By encouraging the various groups/associations (which use the church to worship or to meet)to buy and use Fair Trade items. All coffee, tea and biscuits served after the service come from Fair Trade producers.

4. By planting flowers, shrubs and by installing a bird feeder to attract birds to this safe haven.

5. By printing and selling small eco-guides (Christmas 2009) and another one planned for Spring.

6. By regularly mentioning the Eco-congregation progress and achievements in our Church newsletter which comes out four times a year.

7. The Scots Kirk's carbon footprint – last year at our church here in Paris we used 19,430 Kilowatt Hours of Electricity (and no gas or oil). We multiplied this figure by 0.5, giving 9715kg of CO2.We would like to try to reduce this total.

8. Our Eco-group has invited Peter Rayner, a Climate Scientist and a member of our congregation, living here in Paris, to come and talk to the congregation about his research into global warming and what it all means, on 11 April.

9. The children of our Young Church will study the eco-module after Easter, starting with Peter’s talk which will be part of our Eco-day in our congregation.

As you can see, we're on our way!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Prayer to help us reflect on our choices in life

I found this prayer particularly useful when considering the choices I must make in my everyday life about the way I use energy. Thank a lot to Rob Nigel for making it available to us.


Creator God,

Part of the delight
and wonder of life
is that you gave us freedom to make choices.

Sometimes the decisions
we face seem straightforward
our head and our gut
are in tune,
and those we respect
nod in agreement.

Yet God,
Often we find ourselves in a dilemma,
a crossroads,
where the choices we have to make
may influence not just the road
we choose to travel
but the life journeys of others
who are personally and professionally
connected to us.

Informed by our culture, our upbringing
our formation in faith
we wrestle with different voices,
within and around us
in trying to decide.

In truth God,
are we ever free
to decide on our own,
for only ourselves?

At the end of life,
as at the beginning
we need the care and support
of others,
and may have to rely on
the knowledge and expertise
of a specialised few to help
us make decisions.

O God,
Present at our beginning
and our end,
guide us in our decision making.
help us remember that the choices we make
are influenced by,
and effect others,
whatever road we choose.


Stephen Alexander's Response to Rev. William Hewitt

This was the response of Mr. Stephen Alexander to the Right rev. William Hewitt on the ocassion of the climate change reception at the Scottish Parliament.

I must thank the Moderator of the Church of Scotland for inviting me as the representative of the United Reformed Church Scottish Synod on the Eco-Congregation Steering group to his reception at the Scottish Parliament.

To see and get a chance to meet so many representatives from different denominations but with a like mind on the subject of global warming and the need for the Christian community to take action was most encouraging.
Hearing of the experiences of other congregations in their attempts to tackle this issue gave me personally a fresh impetus to drive this issue forward in the Synod.
At our last one day Synod in September 2009 the URC passed two resolutions supporting the aims of the eco-congregation movement, namely to appoint an environmental representative and to conduct a church audit. Since then 21 churches from this Synod have responded (nearly 50% of our congregations) to the resolution at September Synod to audit their church premises with a view to finding out their carbon footprint (and the amount of money they are spending on energy use!). Church and Society committee believes that we must continue to strive to reduce the damaging effects that people have on our environment, and work with our governments at Westminster, and particularly at Holyrood, in trying to achieve this - by gradually reducing carbon emissions from our heating and energy use. Despite the failure of the Copenhagen Summit to deliver effective measures, there are effective ways each individual and each individual community, including the church community, can take to limit and reduce damaging emissions. We will be recommending at our spring Synod this year, following the example of the Iona Community and the Church of Scotland, that churches reduce their carbon footprint by 5%, year by year, until 42% emissions reduction is achieved by 2020 – in line with Scottish Government proposal.

Stephen Alexander
United Reformed Church Synod of Scotland.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Are electric cars the greener option?

Thomas Parker claims to have invented the first electric car in 1884. By 1071 the first gasline hybrid car was placed on the market by Woods Motor Vehicle in the USA. Since than soem inroad have been done on the development of viable electric cars, but are they really the greener option? It seems it depends on the way your electricity is sourced. If your electricity is produced by heaby reliance on fossil fuels, then sadly, electric cars are not greener than conventional ones according to Ea Energy Analyses who conducted a study on the CO2 emissions of personal vehicles on behalf of the Danish Petroleum Association. the study compared different engines fueled from petrol and diesel to hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric cars and concluded that CO2 emissions from hybrids and electric cars are similar, while diesel cars emit 8% more carbon. Overall, petrol cars are less efficient in their use of energy compared to diesel.

On the other hand, as quoted by the EuroActiv website, "an electric car cannot attain the same travel ranges or top speeds as conventional cars. An electric car that could cover a similar distance with one charge would in fact produce more CO2 emissions than diesel vehicles, as it is heavier and requires more energy".

Electric cars are also high on the EU political agenda assupport for greener transport has been growing. In an economic recovery package released last year, the EU earmarked €5 billion for its Green Car Initiative.

Photograph of electric car in Norway by Complexify.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

EU legistaltion on waste is difficult to enforce

The European Parliament's environment committee has called on the European Commission to distribute lists of member states that fail to properly implement EU legislation on waste, water and nature protection, arguing that the situation had become "absurd". According to MEP Dagmar Roth-Behrendt (Germany, S&D) on Tuesday (23 February) member states have not implemented the legislation that they accpoved and sigend up to. this related in particular to the implementation of the EU environmental rulebook. For more information, follow this link.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Desertec. Electricity from the Desert

Enormous amounts of energy is being delivered every day by the sun to the deserts. Deserts receive in six hours as much energy from the sun as humankind consumes in one year. In addition, some deserts have very good wind sites. The deserts would enable a secure, sufficient and affordable energy delivery for a world of 10 billion people from clean and inexhaustible sources.The Desertec project, which aims to power Europe with solar energy from the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East, is to go truly international next month as five new companies from Spain, Italy, France, Morocco and Tunisia join the scheme.The Desertec concept was developed by the Club of Rome's Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation (TREC) network to bring solar power to Europe from North Africa.

The idea has become increasingly attractive since the EU's new Renewable Energies Directive set a binding goal to reach a 20% share of renewable energies in the EU's energy mix by 2020, detailing individual targets for each country (EurActiv 09/12/08).

Windmills in the desert photograph by ABrinsky.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Is Climate Change really happening?

Stop Climate Chaos have sent this information about ways to counter the negative coverage about climate change.

Over the past few months, there has been a huge amount of coverage about climate change in the media. Unfortunately a great deal of this has not presented a balanced view of the climate change debate and has reportedly damaged public perceptions about whether or not climate change is really happening, is the scientific evidence credible etc.

One simple thing which the coalition has identified we can easily do is to ask our members and supporters to get involved by responding to relevant articles in the press.

We have put together some web pages with information about how to respond to an article, countering common arguments etc:

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Earth be Glad. Programme of St John's Church Edinburgh

We have been showcasing examples of different wasy of being an eco-congregation. here is the contribution of Ben Murray from St John's Church, Edinburgh.

Almost three years ago, a group of volunteers within St John’s Church developed a programme entitled Earth be Glad. At its heart was an online carbon monitoring tool that enabled users to log in and enter their gas and electricity meter readings, in the hope that this simple action would stimulate a greater awareness of home energy use and encourage more energy efficient behaviour. Early results were promising, with significant reductions in the average user’s energy consumption.

But this pilot project struggled to attract more than a fairly small minority of the congregation, and St Johns secured financial support from the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund in order to develop the project further. In addition to setting up an improved website and online carbon monitoring tool, the project will work with partner organisations (including Changeworks and the Energy Saving Trust) to provide advice and resources to help members cut their carbon footprints. It is hoped that the project will be able to engage with a significant proportion of the St John’s congregation and ultimately be rolled out within other faith communities.

The development of Earth be Glad is being led by Ben Murray and assisted by Eleanor Harris, who was involved in the original pilot project and has been a member of St John’s Church for some years. Ben has worked as a marine engineer on nuclear submarines, an environmental activist and campaigner with Greenpeace and as a parliamentary policy advisor for the Scottish Green Party. Eleanor was previously co-ordinator of Eco-Congregation Scotland and is web editor for European Christian Environmental Network .

More blog posts will follow over the coming months as the project is developed.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

FAQS for Eco-Congregation Scotland

The Eco-Congregation Scotland website has recently updated its FAQS section. Have a look in order to get answers to all of those questions that have been nagging you about climate change.

Monday, 22 February 2010

GROW Greyfriars Recycling of Wood

Eco-Congregation Scotland is very happy to announce GROW - Greyfriars Recycling of Wood - as its new supplier for Eco-Congregation Award Plaques.

As part of the Greyfriars Church Community Centre, based in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket, GROW is an emerging social enterprise that seeks to create new employment opportunities for long term homeless with addiction and mental health problems. It brings together homeless service users and volunteers from the local community in common purpose: producing high quality saleable goods made from recycled wood, generally discarded church pews, that generate pride in production and profit from sales that is re-invested in the support and development of the trainees. The quality of goods produced demonstrates the ability of people who are generally devalued and the process of making things of beauty and value from what has been discarded as worthless is itself a message to the wider community. Recycling is just one way of ensuring that we make the most of what we have and do not over consume and use up or discard our valuable resources of both people and things. GROW is a small sign of an alternative imagination in which people and things that are deemed of little value can be transformed into things of beauty that bring satisfaction both to the people who own the products and those who have made them.

The first new award plaque was presented to South Leith Parish Church on Sunday, 21 February 2010 during their Sunday service.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Eco congregation's updated modules

Just a wee note to point out that the Eco-Congregation Scotland website has now the newly updated editions of modules 2 and 13.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Radnor Park Church – Heating System

Radnor Park Church Clydebank has reduced their carbon footprint from 41.14 tons of C02 a year to 6.43 tons by joining a district heating system. They used the carbon calculator provided by Eco Congregation scotland to determine their carbon footprint. In the words of S.W. Cameron, the church treasurer,
the experiment has been an unqualified success both environmentally and financially.

This initiated a few years ago when Clydebank Housing Association applied for planning permission to build a Combined Head and Power plant (CHP) adjacent to our Church. The plant was designed to produce electricity and useable heat which would be connected to what is known as a district heating system for the seven blocks of flats close to the Church.

I suppose it was fortuitous that I am chief engineer in a company called Doosan Babcock who design and construct major power plants. I recognised that there was potential for the Church heating to be connected to their outlet pipes and I contacted the Engineering Contractor of the plant to discuss the possibility.

The electricity production part of the CHP plant is relatively conventional in that steam is produced in a boiler to drive a steam turbine which in turn drives a generator. The steam at the outlet from the turbine has to be condensed to liquid so that it can be pumped back to the boiler inlet and the concept is to use water from the ‘district heating’ system as a coolant and at the same time the condensing steam heats up the district cooling water to around 100-120°C. From the layout drawings submitted with the planning application I estimated that there was probably ‘surplus’ heat in the system and we would effectively increase the efficiency of the CHP plant if we could connect into it.

The initial assessment concluded that it was feasible and the Contractor agreed to run a pipe from the CHP plant to the Church boundary whilst we investigated the requirements in detail and obtained quotes for the purchase and installation of the equipment.

The plant was designed to supply domestic heating and we had to determine whether it could also provide heating for the church building and four halls. We worked with the contactor to specify a heat exchanger connected to the district heating ‘ring main’ and connect the outlet from it to our heating system, bypassing the existing oil boiler. At the same time we didn’t want to fully disconnect the oil heating arrangement in case we had problems in the future. Fitting control valves and bypass valves made it a more complicated but it has been very successful although we are at the ‘end of the line’ of the district heating system and whilst this has not been a problem it meant that bthe church heating was a little cooler during the recent cold spell due to the people in the flats having their heating on full.

I must admit that the original driver was cost saving in that we were paying around £7,000 per annum for oil and the estimated cost of connecting to the district heating system was around £3,000 per annum. The capital cost of the heat exchanger and the installation was £11,000 so we reckoned we would get ‘payback’ in 3-4 years. As it happens the tariff has been substantially less than the estimate because we are taking the surplus heat and it has been difficult to measure the flow and temperature. As such we have already recovered the initial capital cost.

Installing the heat exchange system has reduced our carbon footprint dramatically since the oil fired boiler was probably the least ‘carbon friendly’ system you could get. There are obviously emissions from the CHP plant which I do not have the figures for but plants of this type have an efficiency of around 70% compared to 40% for conventional plant and it is claimed that they have the lowest carbon footprint of any heating system. Since we are taking surplus heat which would be generated in any case if we did not have the connection I would claim that we now have zero emissions from the Church heating system

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Words from the Rev. Tofiga Falan from Tuvalu

Adrian Shaw, Climate Change Officer at the Church and Society Council was kind enough to provide us with the following link to an interview given by the Reverend Tofiga Falan explaining the situation as his country tries to cope with the effects of climate change. Rev. Falan also speaks of his disspointment at results of the Copenhaguen conference.

Please follow the link to read the full length article.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Climate Change Reception @ the Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office organised a Climate Change reception at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 26th of January. Chloe Clemmons, the SCPO Parliamentary Officer mentioned that the purpose of the reception was to celebrate the Climate Change (Scotland) Act in particular the duty on the Scottish Government to publish a public engagement strategy in 2010, to reaffirm the commitment of the Church of Scotland to tackling climate change and supporting the Scottish Government in meeting the targets and finally, to highlight the role that congregations can play in delivering the targets set out in the Act. The Right Reverend William Hewitt, addressed the attendants, highlighting the role of faith-based organisations in the struggle to reduce CO2 emissions and modify life-styles. A copy of his speech is presented below.

I’m delighted to be here this evening to celebrate Scotland’s climate change legislation, and the role you have played in bringing it about. I’m told it is the strongest piece of climate change legislation in the world and if so then it is something we should be very proud of.

Many of you here were involved in the development of the legislation, both in this parliament and as lobbyists outside parliament. Stewart Stevenson was the Scottish Government Minister who piloted the legislation through parliament; MSPs debated it at length and in great detail and lobbyists from Stop Climate Chaos, of which the Church of Scotland is a member, lobbied tirelessly to strengthen the bill. The strength of the Bill is a testament to all your endeavours.

You have set us the challenge of reducing our emission of greenhouse gases by 42% by 2020 and by 80% by 2050.

These are spectacularly challenging figures. To get near these targets we will have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in almost every aspect of our material lives. This will mean changes in the way we travel, in manufacturing, shopping, in our homes and in how we live our lives.

This will not happen automatically and it won’t happen just because the law says it should. It will require the active support, participation and involvement of people and communities across Scotland.

This is why the climate change engagement strategy that the legislation requires is so important. The Scottish Government will have to win over 5 million Scots to the importance of this task and make them believe that climate change is so serious that we have to make these changes.

We believe that people can change their lives to respond to climate change and we are challenging congregations to do just that.

Churches and congregations can help the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government achieve this objective. I say this for a number of reasons.

Those of you who were at The Wave, the march in Glasgow on 5 December organised by Stop Climate Chaos will have seen how many marchers were from church congregations. The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Cardinal Keith o Brien and myself had the privilege of leading the march and of demonstrating our commitment.

I say it because over 230 congregations have now joined Eco-Congregation Scotland, the largest movement of community environment groups in Scotland. These are congregations across the country that are concerned about climate change and are asking ‘what can we do to respond to climate change in our lives and in our communities?’

And I say it because of the commitment that all faith groups are making to care for the earth. At a gathering last year in Windsor Castle organised by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation faith groups from around the world met to reaffirm this commitment. This is a universal theme for all faith groups: the earth is not ours to squander ; we have to care for it and sustain its life and in doing so sustain hope for the future.

The Wave and the Windsor gathering were great events and give us hope.

We were disappointed by the Copenhagen conference and its outcome. It did not deliver the international agreement we were all hoping for. But we must not let this distract us from what we have to do here in Scotland and we must now redouble our efforts. In communities and congregations across Scotland we must embrace this message and take action. We do not have to wait for international negotiations; we can lead by example.

Monday, 25 January 2010

'No Fly' Climate Change Summit

Adrian Shaw, has forwarded us the following article from Trevor Grundy through the Ecumencial news International.

Faith activists take part in 'no fly' climate change summit ENI-10-0044

By Trevor Grundy
London, 19 January (ENI)--Religious leaders who are concerned about the outcome of the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, called COP15, have held their first "no fly" conference, and have urged politicians to follow the example of the world's great faiths in the fight against climate change.

"It is inspiring that we can use modern technology to bring together Christians, Jews and Muslims from across the globe to talk about how their sacred texts inspire them to preserve God's creation, without the need for flying," said Rachel Ward of the Bible Society, which initiated the online conference.

A panel of faith activists and environmentalists in Washington, Nairobi, Jerusalem and Geneva used video conferencing technology to exchange information about climate change with each other and with others who logged in for the discussion.

The meeting took place within a new online social network called Faith Climate Connect.
Participants at the 14 January video discussions, "discussed the practical role that faith, and in particular sacred texts, can take following the disappointments of COP15," said Simon Cohen, whose Global Tolerance company helped arrange the "no fly" conference.

They event organizers said the key to the future is to increase dialogue without increasing carbon footprints, and that "no fly" meetings linking environmentalists, religious leaders and politicians is now the best way forward.

"We have to connect all our networks around the globe, and use every means at our disposal to secure a future for the planet. It belongs to God. We have it on trust," said James Jones, the Anglican bishop of Liverpool.

A survey of people using Faithbook, an inter-faith networking page on Facebook, found that nearly half of all religious people would like their spiritual leaders to cut down on air travel as part of an effort to tackle climate change.

The Bible Society commissioned the survey, in which 64 percent of the 285 people questioned said they believed religions had not done enough to tackle climate change.

"With the failure of Copenhagen, the role of civil society becomes paramount," Alison Hilliard, a representative of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, a group that campaigns to link faith groups and environmental issues, told Ecumenical News International.

Those taking part in the networked video conference included Professor Jesse Mugambi, who teaches religious studies at the University of Nairobi, and is a member of a World Council of Churches working group on climate change.

Others included Rabbi Michael Kagan from Jerusalem, who is co-founder of the Jewish Climate Initiative, and Professor Seyyed Nasr in Washington DC, who is an authority on Islamic science and spirituality, and one of the patrons of the Religious Education and Environment Programme, which provides materials for teachers in Britain. [470 words] ENI News Headlines and Featured Articles are now available by RSS feed. See All articles (c) Ecumenical News International .

Video conferencing photgraph by by scottfeldstein.