Thursday, 30 June 2011

Is Gaviscon the new cure for global warming?

Adrian Shaw addressing the
International Ecumenical Peace
Convocation held in Jamaica 
By Adrian Shaw
I hear that Gaviscon may be the new cure for global warming.   This was suggested by  the adverts that were interspersed with the live broadcast of the plenary session about ‘Peace with the Earth’ from the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation held in Jamaica during May 2011.  Well we may need a lot of it to cool the earth following the recent report from the International Energy Agency.  The report suggests that global emissions of carbon dioxide have now topped 30 gigatonnes for the first time.  The international recession temporarily slowed the increase in 2010 but we are now back to business as usual.

This is a sobering thought for a number of reasons.  There have been sixteen conferences held under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, most recently at Cancun, Mexico in December 2010 and there will be a seventeenth in December 2011 at Durban in South Africa.  Sixteen conferences at which the United Nations, national governments of countries around the world and hundreds of other organisations including church representatives have met to try and negotiate agreements to limit the emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.  The net effect of all this talk has been questionable.  There has been no measurable effect on the global emission of greenhouse gases from this prolonged diplomatic process.  In fact the rate of growth of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the largest greenhouse gas by volume, has continued to increase.

Is the conference process useful and should we continue to support it?  We probably have no choice but we should be realistic in our expectations.  The UN climate change conference circuit has become a media circus with thousands of delegates attending sessions in locations around the world.  The irony of this is demonstrated by the Durban conference website, extolling the ease of flying to Durban: “Getting to Durban for COP 17-CMP 7 is easy with the new King Shaka International Airport….”*

We may hope for a binding agreement at Durban that will have an immediate effect but this is highly unlikely to happen.  Perhaps we can expect African nations, the African Council of Churches in partnership with the World Council of Churches to demand that the nations of the north to live up to their responsibilities and take action to manage, stabilise and reduce their carbon emissions.  This would be a simple and clear messages for churches everywhere to sign up to and one in which Scotland can show leadership.  If not, reach for the big bottle of Gaviscon.

[*  Thanks to environmental artist Kate Foster for pointing out this absurdity.  Her artwork on the subject can be found at her website:]

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Christian Aid and Eco-Congregation Scotland Roadshows

As part of our partnership with Christian Aid we will be undertaking a series of roadshows, hosted by local Eco-Congregation networks.

These roadshows will give local churches the opportunity to find out more about climate change and how they can combat it through  working with Christian Aid and Eco-Congregation Scotland. The meetings will include presentations from both organisations and short workshops. This is an opportunity to find out how your congregation can take part in Christian Aid's campaigns and take practical steps to reduce their impact on people living in developing countries.

The meetings are being hosted by local Eco-Congregation Scotland networks, but they are also aimed at churches who are not currently taking part in the Eco-Congregation programme. This is your opportunity to invite along other local congregations and get them involved. We will be posting details here of these roadshows as they are confirmed. Please help us publicise them and invite your neighbouring churches.

List of roadshows:

Saturday 12th November 2011, Inverness 10am–1pm (TBC) at Ness Bank Church

Friday 23rd September 2011, Perth (TBC)

Monday, 27 June 2011

Important News About Membership

Since February 2010 Eco-Congregation Scotland has been a registered charity with a formal membership structure. Members nominate the board members and approve policies at the AGM. The board are accountable to the AGM and ultimately to the members.

For this to work, the membership should consist of as many eco-congregations as possible. At 15th June we had 52 members out of 277 registered Eco-Congregations.

Ewan Aitken (Chair of Eco-Congregation Scotland) recently wrote to all registered congregations who are not members asking them to join and this has resulted in a number of new applications for membership. If your congregation is not a member please consider joining now. The membership form (PDF file) can be found here:

The board will also be opening up associate membership (which already exists, but has never been used) as a way for individuals to support the work.

The Eco-Congregation Scotland Board is considering a proposing a membership fee to the AGM in March 2012. Membership fees would be ring fenced to pay for supporting the local networks and new congregations coming into our movement. Visible financial support from our members also helps with other funders as it proves that we have grass roots support.

These developments will help us to continue developing Eco-Congregation Scotland and ensure that it is representative of congregations on the ground.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

A Carbon Footprint Calculator for Your Church Web Site

If you have a church or personal web site you might like to add our carbon footprint calculator to it. We have two - one for electricity, gas & oil and another one for car fuel. You will find instructions for adding them at the bottom of this page:

The person who looks after your web site should be able to add the html code to a page for you. if you can't do this then you can just link to the page above.

We will keep the calculator updated for you.

(Using this tool I was able to calculate that my trip to Selkirk on Monday produced approximately 16.77 Kg of Co2).

Helensburgh and Lomond Eco-Congregation Network in local newspaper

The Helensburgh Advertiser carried an article recently about local environmental organisations including the Helensburgh and Lomond Eco-Congregation local network.

Click on image for larger version

You can read the full article here (pdf file).

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Eco-Congregation Scotland Launches New Web Site

Eco-Congregation Scotland has launched a new web site to provide resources for eco-congregations, local networks and the wider church. The new site has a very flexible structure and is being constantly updated. It also has a new address (although all visitors to the old address will be automatically redirected):

This is just part of our online presence.

You can interact with us on Facebook:
and on Twitter (where we also post links to any news items from our web site and blog):

Then we have our blog here (which carries articles of general interest and has also been redesigned):

and our resource called "reducing spending in churches" which is a repository of useful information on energy management and related topics:

We hope you find these useful and would welcome your feedback.

Selkirk Parish Church Installs Solar Panels

Members of the Eco-Congregation board met with David Bethune of Selkirk Parish Church on Monday to look at their solar pv (photo voltaic) installation. This generates power which is used within the building with excess being sold back to the grid. The system is rated at 7.2Kw and was generating 4.3 during the visit just as clouds started to come over.

The church building is a category B listed building and listed buildings permission was required.

One of the ideas behind the project was that the solar panels would be a public statement to the town that the church is concerned about these issues. The congregation is keen to be a leader in the local community on environmental issues and is considering how best to redevelop their church hall. It is also not a wealthy congregation, so it shows what can be achieved with enough determination.

Some photographs from the visit:

Here is a summary of the project:

Location: Selkirk Parish Church, High Street, Selkirk, TD7 4JX
Contractor: Sundog Energy, Fairfield House, North Lakes Business Park, Penrith CA11 0BT (and local scaffolding and electrical contractors)

planning permission obtained   11/11/09
listed building permission obtained 11/11/09
approval of General Trustees (through Presbytery)

40 Romag Powerglaz 180Wp PV modules
coverage 53.5 sq.metres
total capacity 7.2kWp
(almost) south-facing roof, with no shading

estimated 5,575 Units per annum
= £2012 feed-in tariff income
+ £150 export tarrif

estimate 1,500 Units per annum
= £225 reduction in electricity costs

Sundog (design, modules, installation) £30,963
Scaffolding £1,800
Electrical works £950
Roof preparation £3784
Total £37,497

LCBP2e £17,796
General Trustees loan £14,000
own resources £5,700

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

How the EP Church in Ghana is Combating Climate Change

As you may know from our previous article, the EP Church in Ghana (the main Presbyterian denomination in the country) has begun work to reduce the effects of climate change. This includes planting two million trees across several areas of the country.

For full details about their current work see this article:

Here are some photographs of the reforestation project including the nursery where the tree saplings are grown:

Like the rest of Africa, Ghana is already experiencing problems associated with the adverse effects of climate change.

These are obvious in the following areas:

  • Poor and erratic rainfall pattern which is very unpredictable and, as a result, has an impact on good agricultural practices.
  • Poor yields of agricultural produce, which leads to greater malnutrition and has serious implications for people’s health and ability to learn.
  • Mass movement of people from the rural agricultural settlements to the urban centres of the country in search of other job avenues.
  • Poor and unacceptable mining practices that are leading to massive land degradation. 
  • Former arable lands are gradually being destroyed because of illegal and unacceptable mining methods.
  • Deforestation especially through the activities of timber companies and chain saw operators. As a result the forest areas are being turned into savannah regions.
  • Changes in the distribution of tree species are, in turn, having an impact on biodiversity.
  • Desertification and pollution of rivers and other water sources are greatly harming humans as well as other ecosystems.
  • Excessive pollution of the atmosphere by the excessive fumes from imported second hand vehicles and increase in temperature.
  • Increased flooding, sea erosion of the coastal belt, rising sea levels, intrusion of seawater into freshwater areas and loss of wetlands.

Climate change has directly and indirectly exacerbated the incidence of poverty. One
notable effect of these occurrences on health is malnutrition caused by crop failure
which resluts in low and poor yields. The economy of the state is therefore greatly

The EP Church hopes to set up an Eco-Congregation type programme which will link churches, local schools and the wider community.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Sustainable Energy for Urban Communities - Community Energy Scotland

A new scheme is available to support urban communities to deliver sustainable energy projects. The scheme will be running until March 2012 although the programme may continue depending on funding availability and need. Community Energy Scotland will provide support to help you to succeed with your project. Sustainable energy projects provide numerous benefits such as: reducing energy consumption, cutting running costs, providing more comfortable community facilities, alleviating fuel poverty and providing a sustainable income source for communities.
  • The focus for this programme is urban projects that:
  • serve disadvantaged communities
  • help with the redevelopment of an area
  • provide activities and opportunities where there is a recognised need

This programme will include small grants and will be of particular interest to priority area churches.

For full details and contact information please download the flyer here (pdf document):

Friday, 3 June 2011

Norman Hutcheson visits Hungary

Norman Hutcheson

Norman Hutcheson, minister of an Eco-Congregation in Dalbeattie, Dumfries and Galloway, recently visited Hungary. Norman offered to be an ambassador for Eco-Congregation Scotland and during his visit met up with Kodácsy Tamás from ökogyülekezet (Eco-Congregation in Hungary) and was interviewed for Hungarian television.

Click Here to view some photographs of Norman's visit.

For a transcript of his interview click on these links:
Hungarian | English (via Google Translate)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Small grants available

If you are planning an environmental activity using volunteers or think you can come up with a good project that improves biodiversity, then you could be eligible for a CSV Action Earth grant.

The CSV Action Earth campaign is running from May to October this year,  supported once again by Scottish Natural  Heritage (SNH). The 2011 campaign offers three different types of grants ranging from £50-£500 to cover materials, tools and expenses and can make a big difference to an event.

1. CSV Action Earth Express awards are easy-to-access grants of £50 for any group of volunteers to improve their local environment through practical conservation.

2. SNH Biodiversity Awards are grants of £250 for projects who are providing or improving habitats for wildlife or enhancing local biodiversity.

3. SNH Local Nature Reserve Awards of up to £500 are available exclusively for projects taking place on Local Nature Reserves (LNR).

Last year, over 10,000 CSV Action Earth volunteers were involved in tasks such as improving woodlands by planting and clearing, turning derelict wasteland into bee-friendly wildflower meadows, creating ponds and footpaths, tagging sharks, building bird and bat boxes and a whole range of other environmental activities.  We are keen to help projects and groups attract new volunteers to their work.

Grants will be allocated on a first come first serve basis, so please register quickly. Projects can apply NOW.  You can apply online, download forms or get more information at

If you wish to discuss project ideas or discuss any issues relating to the campaign, please contact Robert Henderson on 0131 222 9083 or e: rhenderson [at ]

Get involved and help make a difference to your local environment!