Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Radio Interview about COP 17 Durban

Adrian Shaw form the Church of Scotland Climate Change project and Eco-Congregation Scotland spoke to Cathy MacDonald on her radio show last sunday about the Durban conference.

You can listen to the interview here:

Or download it here.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute Appeal

Too Great a Toll:
SAFCEI is helping the Pondoland Wild Coast Community raise funds for a court case to
oppose development which threatens their livelihoods and natural environment.
2012 Calendar Sales R200 each.
Please call 021-7018145 / 083-4681798. Email cop17@safcei.org.za

Press release from Bishop Geoff Davies:          9th December 2011

Yesterday I told President Zuma that when some people say the end of the world is at hand, I am quite sure that God does not want to bring about the end of this incredible, magnificent and abundant creation, but we humans are in danger of bringing it about.  In fact we are effectively doing so.

Whatever the outcome of COP17 we have to say that it will not be nearly ambitions enough. We are deeply disturbed and disappointed.

We are totally dependent on the well-being of this planet. If we don’t get a binding agreement – and Kyoto is the only one we have – we continue the destruction of this planet.  But our emission reductions must be much more ambitious than Kyoto requires if we have any hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change.

At the faith rally the day before the climate talks started we presented a petition signed by over 200 000 people to the President and Secretary of COP17.

The three key demands for COP 17 are well known:
1. A FAB agreement (fair, ambitious and legally binding) and commitment to a second period of the Kyoto Protocol
2. Clear short and long term targets for carbon emission reductions that keep average global temperature increases well below 1.5 degree
3. Ensure there is adequate finance for adaptation in Africa

But the petition starts by calling on World Leaders to be honest! This is because we cannot fool nature and the environment.  We might try to deceive one another but when we are not honest with the environment, we pay the consequences.  The question now is whether this COP will seek an agreement that places the health and well-being of the planet and people before financial interests and political posturing.  

At the Rally the day before COP started, we asked that South Africa builds a spirit of trust and that all of us – all nations, races, religions, cultures - co-operate in meeting this greatest threat ever to confront humanity.  Stop competing.  Start cooperating! I am glad that I have heard the word co-operate frequently in the plenary.  This is encouraging, but we know that not all nations are agreeing to renew the Kyoto Protocol.

At this late stage, we ask South Africa to be BOLD in setting an example so that we break the logjam and that we do this by basing decisions based on moral principles of justice and compassion and love for people and planet.  This is the only way we will stave off the destruction of all life on this planet, our only home. 

If South Africa could make a bold public commitment to move away urgently from coal to renewable energy we could set even more ambitious targets for reducing carbon emmissions.

We are not helped by news reports that there will be a R3 billion investment in Richards Bay to export 91 million tons of coal a year, or our Minister of Energy stating last week that South Africa has this great of resource of coal and that we would continue burning coal in the future.    

So South Africa wants to continue digging for coal and other nations want to expand the drilling for oil and so we have a stalemate and we will all suffer the consequences.
The reason I am talking about our domestic policy is that by making a dramatic announcement, as host nation, South Africa could call on all nations to make the urgent emission cuts needed to stave off disaster.

Certainly historic polluters like the USA need to reduce their emmissions, dramatically. We find the US position tragic – actually reprehensible!  For the USA chief negotiator to say that the US will just have to reduce emissions more sharply in the future is shocking.  Every year we delay sends millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere – for the next 100 years.  We can’t get it back.  The children and grandchildren of US Congressmen will ask what their parents and grandparents were doing to be so selfish and irresponsible.

The USA is a most religious society yet their behaviour can only be described as sinful because this refusal to reduce emmissions is causing immense environmental destruction and suffering among people.  The Ecumenical Patriarch, Archbishop Bartholomew, has called environmental destruction “a sin against God and a crime against humanity”. 

As a follower of Jesus Christ, we know that he said "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck ...(Mark 9:42).  Millions of children are already stumbling in Africa because of our failure to act.

But it is not only the historic polluters who must act. NO country is entitled to carbon space. The new polluters, like China and India and ourselves (South Africa), need to start reducing emmissions - from 2012 the scientists say! The great news is that the USA, China, India and South Africa all have the capacity and the technical ability to implement renewable energy which can be up and running within months rather than years.  It only requires the political will.

We know the importance of development in Africa.  It is essential that historic polluters assist Africa to leap frog the polluting fossil fuel era into the new solar and renewable energy era through finance owed to Africa.  They have an ecological debt!

When it comes to finance, look at our priorities.  The world could spend $1 trillion to bail out the banks.  The top six armaments expenditure countries spend more than $1 trillion annually, with the US topping the bill with $664 000 billion in 2009, yet we cannot find $100 billion for the planet.  Just half of this “defence” budget would enable the world to meet the MDGs and go a long way to restoring the environmental health of the planet.

The Bible calls strongly for Justice (Amos Chapter 5 verses12 and 24 among many others).  All religions call for Justice.  In South Africa we had to abolish the injustices of Apartheid before we could find peace.  The Apartheid government was spending more and more defending its immoral position.  The same applies in the world today. We have global Apartheid between the rich north and the developing south.  Until we establish justice in the world, we won’t find peace.  We call on the US in particular to give a lead in establishing justice within the global community.  It can then establish a Department of Peace instead of “Defence”.

The negotiation target is still keeping temperature increases below 2 degrees.  We find this incredible.  Already at 0.8 degree average global temperature increase we are experiencing horrific weather extremes – I don’t need to catalogue those.  To go up an average of 2 degrees will bring about horrendous floods and droughts and the scientists warn that Africa will become twice as hot.  Can you imagine a 4 or 5 degree average temperature increase?

It is clear we are being held ransom by the fossil fuel industry.  We sell the birth right of our children to our addiction to fossil fuels.

So our plea at this late stage is that South Africa and the nations of the world “do the right thing”.  This COP would then be remembered for taking a principled stand.

When William Wilberforce was campaigning against slavery, the politicians and business men said the economy of England would collapse without slavery.

Now we are being told the same about carbon, and we have become enslaved.  “Will the last human on earth turn out the lights”.  This sticker was on a door in the toilets of the convention centre.  We can have all the energy we want, on a dead planet.

The well-being of people and planet must be at the centre of negotiations and this can only be done through applying moral principles. 

Finally, we ask that South Africa stands with our African brothers and sisters.  By following African traditions of Ubuntu and sharing and cooperation, we can show the world the path to a sustainable future. 

We have the resources.  Let us not sell out to the big corporations.  President Zuma spoke at a side event on African Agriculture.  We must ask that this initiative is to support the millions of small scale farmers with organic agriculture and not a new wave of big agro-business funded by outside  

We are strongly committed to ecological and organic agriculture as a solution to climate change but we are very wary of putting small African farmers under the control of carbon markets and offsets.  Climate smart agriculture will only work if it does not open the door to CDMs.

To be honest to the environment means that we honestly reduce our emmissions, rather than offsetting them. 

Bishop Geoff Davies
Executive Director
Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI)
Office Phone:  +27 21 701 8145
Cell Phone:      +27 83 754 5275

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Get on yer bike on 11th January!

Message from Stop Climate Chaos Scotland about Edinburgh event:

Photo borrowed from
Spokes (http://www.spokes.org.uk/)
We need your help with our campaign stunt

When:           Wednesday 11th January 2012, 1pm

Where:          St Andrews House, Regent Road, Edinburgh

We need your help for just one hour to urge Scottish Ministers to increase funding for cycling and walking instead of funding expensive road-building programmes that will increase Scotland’s carbon footprint.

Scotland has shown global leadership by setting the most ambitious emissions reduction targets in the world. But our Climate Change Act can only set a good example if we actually achieve what we’ve committed to do – and that’s under threat, as the Scottish Government has failed to fund its own plans to reduce emissions.

The area that is of most serious concern is funding for sustainable transport.

So we need as many people on bikes as possible to gather outside St Andrews House (which is the main office of the Scottish Government), at 1pm on Wednesday 11th January.

A strong crowd will send a clear message that people in Scotland want an urgent change in the way public funds are being spent on transport. We’ll also be inviting the media to get national press coverage on the issue too.

Whether you’re young or old, use your bike for commuting, shopping, fitness or pleasure, we’d love to see you there. A broad cross-section of people will send a stronger message.

For more information and to let us know you’re planning to come, please email Gail Wilson, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland Co-ordinator - gail@stopclimatechaosscotland.org.

Find the event on Facebook at: http://on.fb.me/tVPIKq

Durban outcome is not enough, says WCC

Message from the World Council of Churches:

Youth for Eco-Justice at a demonstration in Durban
 In a statement read on 9 December to government members from around the world at the United Nations climate summit in Durban, South Africa, the World Council of Churches (WCC) reaffirmed the need for a fair, ambitious and binding treaty to effectively address climate change effects on vulnerable communities.

"In Durban, religious communities have come together in various ways to express that climate change is also a moral and spiritual crisis. We proclaim together: We have faith. Act now for climate justice" the statement requested.

It was read to the High Level segment of the 17th Conference of Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by Elias Crisostomo Abramides, from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

During these last two weeks the WCC delegation to COP17, which ended on Sunday in Durban, highlighted the theological, ethical and spiritual dimensions of climate change through various activities.

Expressing his views regarding the COP17, the WCC general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said, “Though a minimum deal was achieved at the last minute to keep the Kyoto Protocol, make some steps towards a new legally binding agreement in 2015, and implement the Green Climate Fund, the overall Durban outcome is far from being enough to respond to the currently disappearing countries and future generations.”

“We need to listen to vulnerable countries and populations, and think of the legacy we are leaving to our children. Churches should continue to act and pray, especially during this time when we prepare for Christmas, the event when God sent his Son, Jesus, to save our beloved planet,” he added.

On Saturday, 3 December some 200-300 people associated with the ecumenical “Time for Climate Justice” campaign joined thousands of other peaceful demonstrators marching through the streets of Durban to voice the civil society demands on climate change.

Interfaith advocacy for climate justice
On the following day an interfaith celebration included prayers from Baha'i, Brahma Kumaris, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim leaders.

At a workshop organized at Durban's Diakonia Centre, Metropolitan Seraphim of Zimbabwe, from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, asked: "Isn't the work for the care of the creation and against climate change and poverty a concrete way of building the visible unity of the church?"

Dr Guillermo Kerber, WCC programme executive on Care for Creation and Climate Justice, stressed that once again the negotiations have not met the expectations of the poorest and most affected countries, churches and the civil society at large.

"We are still very far from the committed response that vulnerable communities and regions affected by climate change need to see from the international community in order to address the challenges posed by climate change. Some of the industrialized countries have prevented a more ambitious and effective regime. The decision of Canada of withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol is an example of the failure of the negotiations".

When asked what story of hope he would point out, Kerber said: "At this COP, the Youth for Eco-Justice (Y4EJ) showed the enthusiasm and commitment of the young generation to bridge the gap between eco-justice activities at the congregations with advocacy at the global level."
The Y4EJ, organized jointly by the WCC and the Lutheran World Federation, brought together 30 young adults from all over the world for training, field visits and interaction with COP17.

More information on WCC work for eco-justice:www.oikoumene.org/eco-justice
Care for creation and climate justice:
High resolution photos of the Youth for Eco-Justice programme in Durban are available via photos.oikoumene.org

Act Alliance Climate Change Conference message

Press release from:

Durban deal only the start, says ACT Alliance

ACT Alliance welcomes the hard-fought political victory championed by the EU, small island states and the least developed countries in the waning hours of the UN climate conference in Durban, where governments of the world’s largest polluters finally agreed to the principle of a global plan to tackle climate change.

The agreement proves largely disappointing, however, for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, says ACT Alliance. Indeed, the global plan will not take effect until 2020 – a date that will be too late for many. The world’s poor are already hit by floods, droughts, deadly storms, hunger and disease – which will only worsen as a result of climate change. The deal leaves open the prospect that the world’s temperature will rise by 3 or 4 degrees, which is significantly higher than the 2 degrees deemed manageable by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Secretary General of ACT Alliance, John Nduna, said that while governments are relieved the climate summit in Durban delivered at least some sort of agreement, “the poor and vulnerable will weep at its content. The agreement is too careful and vague to stave off the worst impacts of climate change in time.”

While the Durban outcome left much to be desired, the clear success of this COP has been to mobilise the Green Climate Fund, a new tool to channel climate finance to developing countries. Nduna explained that the Fund “is of huge importance for the adaptation, disaster risk reduction and support work needed at the grassroots level.”

However, a fund without money will not be able to deliver. Governments must urgently agree on how to mobilise the necessary funds.

COP17 also agreed on a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol, but the new deal severely watered down the only existing international legal agreement on climate change, paving the way for a number of countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions targets to arbitrary quantities based on political expediency rather than scientific necessity.

Nduna explains, “We did not want the Kyoto Protocol for its name, but its content – and we therefore regret this development. We are concerned that the basic spirit of the Kyoto Protocol is fading.”

The outcome in Durban places a huge burden on emergency response networks such as ACT Alliance in its support of vulnerable communities in their adaptation and mitigation efforts – as climate-induced emergencies increase in number and intensity. As such, ACT Alliance and similar coalitions must also pressure governments to live up to their promises made in Durban.
Looking forward, Nduna concludes, “the world will need to work hard in the next months and years to concretise the loose agreement made in Durban.”

About ACT Alliance
ACT is a global coalition of 125 churches and related organisations working together for justice for the world’s poor and oppressed. With strong local roots in 140 countries, ACT mobilises US$1.6 billion annually for humanitarian assistance, development and advocacy work. The alliance has over 33,000 people working for it globally.

Mattias Söderberg, ACT Alliance Senior Advocacy Adviser
M +45 29700609

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Durban Climate Change Talks in a Rut

Message from Rev. Tafue Molu Lusama (General Secretary, Tuvalu):
The negotiations are moving not in the right direction as expected, the expectation of an agreement on a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol seems very weak due to some contries refusing to do anything with the Kyoto Protocol at all, and some even are trying to jump out of the protocol. The issue of a similar protocol to start a process of negotiations now and to finalize it in 2013 which will include countries who are not in the Kyoto and including the developing countries who have become major emmitting countries seems also vaque because it is underminded by those developing countries. The US is saying that it will do nothing at all unless the developing countries like India and China agrees to do something. It is frustrating here. But the EU is very supporting of our position for a second commitment of the KP and the proposal for a parallel protocol to include developing major emmitter countries.

It is not very encouraging, seems like it will again drag for
another year without an agreement on a deal.

Please keep us in your prayers as we try and work to have a positive outcome here in Durban.

Kind regards

Rev. Tafue Molu Lusama

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Low-carbon Africa: Leapfrogging to a green future by Christian Aid

Christian Aid's new report Low-carbon Africa: Leapfrogging to a green future, makes the case that Africa is able to deliver clean and sustainable energy to millions of energy-poor people across the continent without increasing greenhouse gas emissions – and for this renewable power potential to drive a green economic expansion across the region.

For further information or to download a copy click here.

Durban Diaries 1

Filed From Durban By
Mr. Charles Agboklu
Religious Bodies Network On Climate Change. [RELBONET]

29TH NOV. 2011

COP 17 kicked off in grand style on Monday, the 28th November, in Durban. The first day was used to sort out agendas and procedural matters for the start of real business among the Parties. Civil Society Action was also fully on display, calling attention of delegates and negotiators to the crucial issues that they need to pay attention to for the achievement of positive outcomes.
All the UNFCCC BODIES that are charged with the responsibilities to negotiate and deliver a fair, ambitious and equitable outcome in Durban were subsequently cranked into action.
The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice [SBSTA] that is responsible for the Science of Climate Change and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation [SBI] responsible for the implementation of COP decisions went into session immediately.

The Plenary Session of the SBI was chaired by her Excellency, Nkoana- Mashabane of South Africa who is the President of COP 17. The Plenary session was mainly devoted to seeking the opinion of the various political blocks represented in the SBI on the core issues of climate change that relates to them for consideration.
The President called out the PARTIES in turns to make very brief comments and submissions from their various countries and blocks on the issues.

  • ARGENTINA representing the Group of 77 + China expressed concern about the increase in GHG [Green House Gases] by the industrialized countries [Annex 1] even as the debate on Climate Change rages on. She indicated that the shifting of goalposts by Annex 1 countries on to developing nations on mitigation actions and reduction of emissions is unacceptable.
  • Argentina supports the maintenance of reports on technical reviews on the emission targets and also called on the Annex 1 countries to provide the necessary financial resources needed by developing countries to tackle their problems and also prepare their National Communications as demanded of them.
  • THE GAMBIA representing the Least Developed Countries [LDC] supports the early completion of National Adaptation Plans and called on the Global Environment Fund [GEF] to expedite action on the funding of the plans, devoid of any discrimination.
  • GRENADA speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States [AOSIS] supported the statements from Argentina and the Gambia and said time was running out for the AOSIS since they were already experiencing very extreme weather effects that needed immediate action.

C.A.N. organized a press briefing to highlight concerns about the delay in signing up to the 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol [KP]. The panel was made up of members representing the Green Peace, Oxfam, Christian Aid and C.A.N.

  • The Representative from Green Peace said that the African soil should not become the graveyard for the Kyoto Protocol. He emphasized that the KP remains the only global model and roadmap which should be followed to its logical conclusion. The panel further called on the EU to show commitment and defend the KP, listen to the AOSIS states and re-launch onto the KP talks.
  • Oxfam opined that it was crucial for COP 17 to see finality to the establishment of the Green Climate Fund as demanded by the Cancun Agreement.
  • Christian Aid indicated that DURBAN should be the birthplace of a second commitment period of the KP

30TH NOV 2011
The International Union for Conservation of Nature [I.U.C.N.] and the Women’s Environment & Development Organization [WEDO] organized a side event to share the results of a study on Gender and REDD+ conducted in Ghana, Uganda and Cameroon.
The study indicated that Gender considerations are essential to the successful outcome of any REDD+ Initiatives. They indicated that as all countries move towards a Green Economy, it was crucial for all to move away from the previous attitudes of non-inclusiveness of women in decision making processes and create space for Gender Equality in programming and also balance the equation between men and women.

  • There was the need to scale up women business enterprises from the micro to the macro level since studies reveal that when women create businesses and lead them they result into greater productivity.
  • The study emphasized the need to engage women in the REDD+ preparedness initiatives from the very beginning and not later.
  • The study recommended the involvement of women in policy issues from the local, national to international levels, build their capacity to become competitive, have access to finance, work together to achieve bottom – up approaches, participate in project design and implementation.

The study concluded that Gender Equality and Empowerment is critical to sustainable and economic development; therefore involving women in REDD+ Initiatives will increase productivity and close the Gender Gap.

The AWG – LCA which is one of the negotiation tracks according to the Bali Plan of Action held a meeting of the parties and observers.
The purpose of the meeting was to move the process for an Enhanced Action on Adaptation forward since their last consultations in Panama.
The facilitator opened the meeting by recalling the process they adopted in Panama  and recommended that if all parties agree, they could then adopt that methodology.
He called on the negotiators to consider harmonizing compatible texts in order to reduce the volume of texts without losing their original meanings.
Countries were then called one after the other for their comments on the way forward that would enable the committee come up with a draft text for the consideration of the PARTIES IN COP 17.
Mexico and Ghana, on behalf of the Group of 77 + China indicated that they were interested in moving the process forward, while negotiators should maintain an open mind to be able to recognize any new issues that might likely arise between Panama and Durban.
The negotiator from Georgia, reminded the Chairman about a previous submission that  there were some Nine ( 9) states in Eastern Europe that neither belong to the Group of 77 + China nor the [LDC’S] and that due recognition be taken of this fact that should not be forgotten during the consideration and consolidation of the text stages.
The representative from the Philippines advised that all the consultations should continue in the spirit they all exhibited in Panama to allow for an early accomplishment of their assignment.
The Parties are to meet again on Saturday to move the negotiations forward.

Monday, 28 November 2011


Every year the UN climate change ‘conference of the parties’ moves around the world with a circus of followers numbering into the thousands.  The intention of the conference is deadly serious, to try and negotiate a treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol that will limit and if possible reduce the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. 

Every year the stakes get a little higher as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, currently by just over two parts per million each year. Every year environmentalists call for a binding treaty and every year it fails to happen despite the usual diplomatic round of late night talks, positioning, posturing and last minute breakthroughs or last minute disappointments.  It all makes good television but does it achieve anything? 

It is easy to be sceptical and to a certain extent scepticism protects us from the repeated failure of conferences to achieve a binding agreement.  Perhaps we should not be surprised at this because of the scale of the challenge.  What is needed is a huge change, a paradigm shift from the carbon economy that has fuelled the growth of the past century to a global economy that can promote genuine wellbeing without causing such environmental and human damage.  

Such a change requires a mind shift of equal measure.  Continued economic growth heedless of the consequences is no longer viable but we have not yet been able to extricate ourselves from this vision and the current recession has just reinforced the mindset that economic growth must come first.  Change may come only slowly; consider for example how long it took for attitudes to the health risks of smoking to be translated into action.   

Yet we have no alternative. As the stories from Tuvalu and elsewhere make clear the impact of climate change and rising sea levels on vulnerable areas remains devastating.  Congregations have to face up to this challenge in their own buildings homes, and lives in the community.  The alternative of runaway carbon emissions is unthinkable.

Adrian Shaw
28 November 2011

Friday, 25 November 2011

World Council of Churches calls for further action on climate change

A new UN Conference on Climate Change will take place in Durban in 28 November– 10 December. As part of this WCC general secretary, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse-Tveit has called for :

  1. A Second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (the only legally binding instrument we have up to now setting clear targets for greenhouse gas emissions).
  2. A clear mandate to conclude negotiations on a legally binding instrument or instruments by 2015. Under the Long term Cooperative Action steps must be made to ensure that a binding legal regime where the UNFCCC principles, especially of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities, future generations, and sustainable developments prevail.
  3. A set of measures to operationalize the Green Climate Fund, realizing the promise of the Cancun Agreements in order that it can become an effective tool for adaptation in the most vulnerable regions.
Rev Dr Olav Fykse-Tveit said:
Although many of us were impressed by the churches’ and civil society’s mobilization in Copenhagen at COP15, where I had the opportunity to be present, the Conference failed to adequately respond to the climate challenges. Last year, in COP 16 in Cancun, governments came to an agreement that brought back the possibility of international negotiations on the climate regime. But this was not enough.
Churches are very involved in lobbying the conference. A student from Strathclyde University is taking part in the Justice Africa Mission. You can find out more about this here.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Find out how you can stay warm and save money this winter

Energy Saving Trust will be visiting the following places:
Friday 25th November - Asda Kilmarnock, 10.30am-6.30pm
Saturday 26th November - Dobbies Ayr, 9.30am-5.30pm
Tuesday 6th December – Morrisons Dumfries, 10.30am-6.30pm

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Article from Daily Graphic newspaper of Ghana

An article was published recently in the Daily Graphic newspaper in Ghana. Written by Charles Agboklu of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ghana it explains how the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance has sought to influence decision makers at COP17 in Durban.

........The major issues that are of great concern to Africa as represented in PACJA considerations  include the drastic reduction of Green House Gases (GHG)  that are responsible for global warming as provided for in the Kyoto Protocol,  unimpeded access to global adaptation and mitigation funds,  finance, technology transfer and capacity building . Other concerns include the structure and allocation of global climatefunds, unredeemed pledges made by the developed industrial countries, [Annex 1] since Copenhagen, composition of governing boards for the implementation of the Africa Green Fund and other ancillary issues. Regarding global warming, PACJA insists that global temperatures caused by polluting countries in the North be drastically reduced to well below 1.5 degrees as prescribed by climate scientists under the UNFCCC.  PACJA further argues that any increase beyond 1.5 is injurious to Africa which is already reeling under the current levels and will have dire consequences for agriculture, health and food security. Climate science has proved that any further increases in global mean temperatures will result in temperature rise which is one and half times more in Africa than any other continent. Africa is therefore in the frontline of the devastating effects of climate change as already being experienced through persistent floods, extensive coastal erosion, prolonged droughts, very low agricultural yields  and crop failures in some African countries even though it is the least emitting continent of Green House Gases. 

You can read the full article here (PDF file):


If you are interested in the Durban conference, one of our supporters called Claire is travelling with the Caravan of Hope. You can read about what she is doing here.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Ghana - Religious Bodies Network on Climate Change

Churches in Ghana have formed an organisation called RELBONET (The Religious Bodies Network on Climate Change). They write:

The issues of climate change have reached alarming proportions especially in Africa, where climate effects are wrecking havoc and pain on the rural poor through massive relocation of peoples from their original positions through excessive floods, crop failures due to climate variability, erosion of coastal areas and threats of desertification.
These effects have implications for food safety and security, health and education in African countries that are already known to be vulnerable to these disasters.
The Religious Bodies Network on Climate Change [RELBONET] in Ghana has decided to raise a platform which shall enable them better understand the issues of climate change and its effects. The rationale for that decision is to position them to better carry out advocacy for the legislation of good climate policies and actions by Government to stem the tide of climate effects and enhance sustainable development efforts in Ghana.
RELBONET recently held a three day conference on climate change the report of which can be downloaded here (pdf file).

It is interesting that the conclusions they reached about public engagement with government policy, and the ability of churches to reach people are so similar to what we have found here in Scotland with Eco-Congregation:

The Conference ended very successfully and called for regular interactions between RELBONET, policy makers and implementers as they sought to do in their strategic plan. Continuous education and public awareness activities are to take centre stage throughout the country by member organizations and their representatives and organs to spread throughout the country. RELBONET called on Government, Development Partners and INGOS to seriously engage and partner Religious Bodies in all stakeholder events in order to enrich their discourses and plans. RELBONET is to use its numerical advantage to reach out to a critical mass of citizens with behavioral change messages from the pulpits and their schools, colleges and universities which are properly positioned for such interventions.

Photographs of the conference:

Friday, 4 November 2011

Guest post: Climate Justice Africa Mission

Dear EcoCongregation Scotland blog readers,

Gordon has kindly invited me to share my African Climate Justice Mission blog on this site, and I will be sharing posts from my blog here, as I travel with a caravan of 160 young Africans and young people from around the world, to take a message of Climate Justice and sustainability to our world leaders at the United Nations (UN) Climate negotiations in Durban this year.

I am currently in Nairobi, and the Regional African Youth Climate Conference, before the caravan leaves on Monday, for Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and finally South Africa. The first sessions in the conference have been totally inspiring and empowering, as young people have stepped up to speak about their projects, share experience of Climate Change causing food and water shortages in their communities, and how they are trying to adapt. Our mission on the caravan is to share knowledge and spread conversation and awareness about Climate Change, and importantly collect an ambitious 250,000 signatures on our petition to call the UN world leaders to a fair binding treaty at Durban. The African voice needs to be heard, since these are the people who are feeling the impacts of Climate Change the hardest. Our campaign is "We Have Faith: Act Now for Climate Justice!"

Once we arrive in Durban, we will be joining thousands of other young people to lobby and campaign around the main UNFCCC negotiations. I will also be participating in a leadership training programme (Youth for Eco-Justice) by the World Council of Churches and Lutheran World Federation for 28 young Christians from all over the world to initiate and build environmental and sustainability projects in our countries and around the world. I am hoping to work with EcoCongregation and other organisations in the UK, and form strong partnerships, particularly with young people, who must take charge of the future. For me, this journey is a study break in my Wind Energy PhD at Strathclyde University, and I am currently representing the UK Youth Climate Coalition in Africa, until I join the rest of the UKYCC delegation in Durban, once the caravan arrives.

There is an opportunity to support the African cause and the caravan on my blog, and I hope to keep in touch with all the UK networks and projects, while I am on this 6-week mission. I look forward to working with EcoCongregation and many other organisations and initiatives on my return to the UK.

Earth Hour 2012

Eco-Congregation Scotland is supporting next year's earth hour and we would like as many congregations as possible to take part. Nearer the time we will be sending out ideas for things you can do, but meanwhile here is some basic information:
WWF’s Earth Hour is a simple idea that’s quickly turned into a global phenomenon. Hundreds of millions of people turning off their lights for one hour, on the same night, all across the planet. 

But it’s not to save an hour’s electricity. It’s something much bigger. WWF’s Earth Hour is about people coming together to put the focus on this brilliant world we all share – and how we need to protect it. Not just for an hour a year, but every day.

Because a healthy planet isn’t just good for polar bears or tropical tree frogs. It’s essential for us all. It’s easy to forget how much we depend on it for food, fuel, water, fresh air... And the truth is, our modern lifestyles have been taking a toll on our planet. 

WWF already tackles a lot of the environmental impacts – like deforestation, endangered species, and the problems of man-made climate change. But Earth Hour is a chance for everyone to say they’ll do their bit. And that’s never been more vital.

Above all, Earth Hour is a celebration. It’s always a night to remember – whether it’s a special candlelit evening at home with friends or family, or a night out on the town, or watching the spectacular global switch-offs live online from landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Edinburgh Castle, the Pyramids of Giza, Times Square, Sydney Opera House…

And everyone’s invited

Join the hundreds of millions switching off for a brighter future. 
Switch off your lights at 8.30pm on Saturday 31 March 2012 and get involved at

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Video showing world temperature increases.

Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, who has been a harsh critic of advocates for prompt cuts in greenhouse gases, has finished an independent analysis of 200 years of temperature data and confirms existing studies showing substantial warming of the continents since 1950.

This video is a representation of the land surface temperature anomaly, 1800 to the present from the data analysed by the Berkeley Earth analysis. It shows a 0.911 degrees Centigrade of land warming (+/- 0.042 C) since the 1950s. For more information about this study visit http://berkeleyearth.org.

The map of the world shows the temperature anomaly by location over time.
The chart at the bottom, shows the global land-surface temperature anomaly.


Double cllick on the video to watch it full screen.

Government Consultation on Feed-in Tariffs for Solar PV

As you may have heard, the UK Government is proposing to reduce the feed in tariff for new solar PV installations by 50%. Their rationale for doing this is that the cost of installation has reduced by about 30%. The proposal is now out for consultation and you can take part.

According to the Sustainable Scotland Network the consultation contains the following key proposals:

  • Reduction of the FITs rate for domestic solar electricity production (under 4kW in size) from the current 43.3p/Kwh to 21p/Kwh. The new rate would apply to all PV schemes with an eligibility date on or after 12 December 2011. Those who already receive FITs will continue to receive their current rate and those with an eligibility date on or before 12 December will receive the current rates for 25 years. Reduced rates are also proposed for schemes between 4kW and 250kW.
  • Introduction of a new multi installation tariff rate. Owners with more than one solar PV scheme at different locations would receive a ‘multi-installation rate for aggregated solar PV schemes’ set at 80% of the standard tariff for individual installations.
  • New energy efficiency requirements. In order to be eligible for FITs from 1st of April 2012 the owner would have to demonstrate that their property had an Energy Performance Certificate level of C and/or or taking up all the measures potentially eligible for Green Deal finance to qualify for FITS.
  • Community Projects. As part of the consultation DECC will consider if more can be done to help community project fully benefit from FITS.

Climate Change and Energy Minister Greg Barker said:
“My priority is to put the solar industry on a firm footing so that it can remain a successful and prosperous part of the green economy, and so that it doesn’t fall victim to boom and bust.
“The plummeting costs of solar mean we’ve got no option but to act so that we stay within budget and not threaten the whole viability of the FITs scheme."
Instructions for taking part in the consultation process can be found here on the DECC web site.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Free Event for Community Organisations on the Green Deal Scheme

Changeworks and the Scottish Government are running two free events for community organisations about the UK Government’s Green Deal scheme. These are on on the 16th of November in Edinburgh and 23rd of November in Inverness.

The Green Deal will completely transform the UK’s approach to making homes more energy efficient. However, it’s not yet clear how communities and organisations could be involved, or how it will impact on local efforts to reduce climate change.

The events are being held so that communities are informed and interested in contributing to the UK consultation taking place later this year.

9.30am – 2.00pm, Wednesday 16 November, COSLA Conference Centre

11.30am – 4.00pm, Wednesday 23 November, SCVO, Fairways House

Orkney, Shetland and Stornoway – via video conference and web access
11.30am – 4.00pm, Wednesday 23 November, various locations
If you would like to join the video conference and web access from a different location please contact Catherine Fong on 0131 538 7950.


The UK Government is about to launch a consultation into the Green Deal. This event will give you the opportunity to:

  • Find out everything currently known about the Green Deal and the consultation 
  • Find out about the potential opportunities for community organisations 
  • Hear what the UK Government says about the scheme 
  • Discuss the proposals in depth with other community groups 
  • Decide how and if you want to respond to the consultation 
  • Contribute to a report that will be sent to the Scottish Government and the UK Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change

The Scottish Government is helping to fund this event, which is one of a series of events being held for stakeholders.


Click here to go to the Changeworks website and download a booking form for the events.

Spaces are limited and will be given on a first come first served basis to members of community groups and development trusts.

For more information about Changeworks and the work they do with community organisations please click here.

If you have any queries at all please contact Catherine Fong on 0131 538 7950.

Edinburgh Eco-Congregation Installs Solar Panels

One of our eco-congregations, Saughtonhall United Reformed Church in Edinburgh, has started generating electricity from their own solar panels on the church roof. The panels were officially switched on by Rev Ewan Aitken, Chair of Eco-Congregation Scotland at a ceremony on Sunday.

Mark Kirkbride from the church with the new solar panels

According to a report in the Edinburgh Evening News:

Reverend Susan Kirkbride, minister at Saughtonhall, said: “Not only will the panels mean Sunday services are mainly heated and lit with our own electricity, but many of the groups using the church during the week will also benefit. 
“The church drama group believe they may have Edinburgh’s first solar-powered pantomime matinee this November, when they stage their show Beauty Sleeping.”
The church said the solar panels, which cost less than £30,000, should pay for themselves in six or seven years. 
The new system, supplied and installed by local firm Christie and Ross, will produce a maximum of 9.8kw of electricity, about the same amount as panels recently installed on Bradford Cathedral.
Surplus electricity generated by the church will be fed into the National Grid, earning cash for the congregation, and the church will take power for its own needs from the grid during the night when it is cheaper. 
The decision to fit the panels came after the church’s elders arranged a review of carbon-saving opportunities by the Energy Saving Trust. 
The official switch-on will be performed by the Rev Ewan Aitken, convenor of Eco Congregations Scotland. 
Ewan Aitken spoke at the switch on ceremony
He said: “We believe churches can be real leaders in this field. Saughtonhall are breaking the ground, which is great. 
“It’s a way of leading by example, to say to others that we need to do different things in the way we do our energy in consumption and generating it. Churches are often at the centre of their communities, so a project like this can be a catalyst for the whole community getting involved in these kinds of initiatives.”

Rev Ewan Aitken, Rev Susan Kirkbride, Rev John Humphreys (URC Synod of Scotland)

Friday, 28 October 2011

Student from Strathclyde Unversity going to Durban

You may have read on our news page about the we have faith petition for climate justice. A student from Strathclyde University called Claire has contacted us to say that she is going on the We Have Faith: Act Now caravan and the Youth for Eco-Justice event in Durban.

You can read Claire's blog here.

Claire hopes to contribute articles to our blog during her travels.

Here is a list of recent articles from Claire's blog (will update automatically as new ones are added):

Thursday, 27 October 2011

A Bridge made from Plastic Bottles

According to Greenwise Business News the first road bridge built entirely from recycled plastic bottles has opened in the Scottish borders. Crossing the River Tweed at Easter Dawyck in Peeblesshire, the bridge is constructed from 50 tons of plastic bottles.

"Start-up company Vertech Limited partnered with Dawyck Estates, specialist bridge designer Cass Hayward LLP, Cardiff University’s School of Engineering, Rutgers University’s AAMIPP Department and Axion International – with support from the Welsh Assembly Government – to make the project a reality.
The bridge now spans the River Tweed at Easter Dawyck in Peeblesshire and forms part of the historic John Buchan Way. It was built off-site and assembled in just four days by a team from Glendinning Groundworks, a local Peeblesshire contractor, and 10 Field Squardron (Air Support), Royal Engineers.
Being made from plastic it won’t rust, requires no painting or regular maintenance and is 100 per cent recyclable, Vertech."

For the full article click here.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Campaigning on Climate Change with Christian Aid and SCCS

Eco-Congregation Scotland works closely with Christian Aid. We are currently running a series of Eco Workshops together which highlight the effect that Climate Change is having on countries around the world as well as Scotland and what we might do in response.

Christian Aid is a member of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS). SCCS are currently trying to keep the Scottish Government on track regarding their momentous Climate Change Act Moment in 2009.

Why is it important?
Scotland ’s Climate Change Act is world-leading. With a 42% emissions reduction target by 2020, it's in line with scientists' recommendations if we want to protect people and nature from the devastating impacts of climate change. But while we're leading the way with our Climate Act, it'll be impossible to meet our commitments if there isn't adequate funding. We must make sure that our government takes action to create a cleaner, greener and more sustainable Scotland , and a better world for us all. The Scottish Government is planning next year's budget now for Parliament to consider - so please help us put the pressure on to ensure they allocate enough public funds for action on climate change - such as insulating housing and providing better public transport.

Send a special email to your MSP 
If one of your MSPs is listed below, you have an important role to play in helping Scotland move towards a low carbon future. The Scottish Government has published their draft budget, but it does not currently fund even the minimum activities required if we’re to meet the greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets in our Climate Change Act. This group of MSPs has high influence when it comes to reducing Scotland’s emissions – if your MSP is listed below, please take action today.

If you’re not sure which constituency you live in, find out here.

Aberdeen South and North Kincardine
Maureen Watt MSP, Convenor of the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee

Airdrie and Shotts
Alex Neil MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment

Caithness, Sutherland & Ross
Rob Gibson MSP, Convenor of the Rural Affairs, Environment and Climate Change Committee

Clackmannanshire and Dunblane
Keith Brown MSP, Minister for Transport and Housing

Cunninghame North
Kenny Gibson MSP, Convenor of the Finance Committee

Lothians region
Gavin Brown MSP, Convenor of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Climate change migration warning

A new international report, published today, reveals that the major challenges associated with migration and environmental change have been underestimated. By focusing solely on those that might leave vulnerable areas, we risk neglecting those that will be ‘trapped’ and those that will actually move towards danger.

One of the reasons the report was commissioned was to examine concerns that the environmental degradation caused by climate change would lead to millions of so-called climate refugees abandoning sterile farmland and migrating to countries less affected by the problem.

Detailed analysis commissioned specifically for the study found that this was unlikely to be the case. Three-quarters of the migration, it says would be within national borders - predominantly from rural to urban areas.
The issue, according to Professor Beddington, was to ensure that the migration was properly managed - otherwise, he said, it was likely there would be widespread humanitarian disasters on an unprecedented scale.

You can read a BBC article on the report here.

Details of  The Migration and Global Environmental Change Foresight Report can be found on the Government's Foresight web site here.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Hope For Creation - A Global Day Of Prayer And Action On Climate Change

From Tearfund:

On Sunday 6 November 2011 Tearfund is joining with partners across the world for Hope for Creation - a global day of prayer and action on climate change - and we’d love you to join us!

We’re expecting thousands of Christians around the world to join in by praying and speaking up for justice for our global neighbours and for action to protect God’s creation.

Urgent action is desperately needed internationally to tackle climate change and protect the world’s poorest people who are suffering the most. We hope this day will unite the global church in praying and acting for progress at the UN climate talks in Durban this December and for action in our own countries to respond to the issue.

Take part at home, with a group of friends or with your whole church. All you need to do is pray as we speak with one voice for action on climate change.

Visit www.hopeforcreation.org to sign up to take part and to download resources - including a prayer resource - to help you and your church join in.

Water crisis in Tuvalu

The World Council of Churches reports:

On 28 September, the Tuvalu government declared Tuvalu to be in a state of emergency due to water shortage - the result of a five-month drought in the Pacific Island nation.

The Rev. Tafue Lusama, general secretary of the Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu (Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu, EKT), wrote:

"Here on the capital Funafuti, the government has sealed all the water catchments on the island and whatever little water that is left is rationed to all people at a ration of about 20 litres per household.

"Most severely affected are the southern islands of Nukulaelae which are experiencing a difficult time with water shortage and local food as well. The coconut tree tops has started falling off, breadfruit trees are dead, banana plantations are dried up, and even the traditional pulaka pits are rotten.

"On behalf of the Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu I would like to appeal to you for your prayers as we face this critical challenge due to climate change. The EKT is doing what it can to assist the people most affected, and we need you to stand with us in our efforts."

Thirty new cases of water born disease were confirmed in Tuvalu on 6 Ocober as the country's water crisis deepens. Authorities have confirmed that the outbreak is due to the current drought and poor quality drinking water.

For the full article click here.