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 www.actionearth.org.uk 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
E: rhenderson@csv.org.uk

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.