Thursday, 21 July 2011

Creation Time 2011

Creation time is organised by the Council of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI). Creation Time 2011 runs from 1st September to 4th October and can be integrated into harvest festival activities to promote sustainable living.

This year's theme is "Our Daily Bread - Food in God's Creation":
'What's the food like?', 'Who is providing the food?', 'Is there enough food to go round?' Our everyday talk constantly makes reference to food, which is no surprise, as food and drink are essentials for life and survival.
When we pray "Give us our daily bread" we are both acknowledging our dependence on God's generosity and our realisation that the answer to that prayer needs to include agriculture, commerce, sharing, trade-justice, animal welfare, diet and a host of other considerations.

A range of resources are available including:
  • Sermons / sermon notes
  • Prayers
  • Ecumenical service
  • Discussion group resource - Sustainable farming
  • Study / discussion resource
  • 8 day harvest (re-imaging harvest)
  • Background paper
  • Additional resources
  • Advertising flyer
  • Translations
To download these please go to the Creation Time web site:

Monday, 18 July 2011

Climate Justice for Sustainable Peace in Africa

A message from African faith leaders to the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), from 29 November – 9 December 2011 in Durban, South Africa.
You must treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents. It is loaned to you by your children. – Kikuyu proverb

1. Introduction
We gathered as African faith leaders at UNEP in Nairobi, Kenya on 7th and 8th June 2011, to discuss climate change and how it will be addressed at COP17. Scientific reports indicate that climate change may well be the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced, with, on current targets, probable increased global warming of 2.5⁰C to 4⁰C by 2100i – widely agreed to be disastrous. Yet progress in international negotiations has not matched the scale of the crisis. There appears to be a deadlock between competing political and economic interests from various power blocs.

We believe that to break this deadlock, new perspectives are required. Firstly, economic and political processes have to be based on ecological principles, and not vice versa. There can be no infinite economic or population growth on a finite planet. Secondly, there is a profound need for a renewed moral vision for the future of humanity and indeed of all life. We debase human beings by seeing them only as economic instruments, and debase the sanctity of life by commodifying it. We must realise that well‐being cannot be equated with material wealth. The quality of life is not dependent on the quantity of material things or growth measured by GDP. Instead, our standard of living depends on our standard of loving and sharing. We cannot sustain a world dominated by profit‐seeking, rampant consumerism and gross inequalities, and an atmosphere of competition where the powerful take advantage of the weak without caring for the well‐being of every form of life. Development cannot be sustained if the affluent project themselves as examples to be copied by everyone else, and if the poor model their lifestyles on such examples.

These insights draw from the rich moral and spiritual traditions on our continent and elsewhere in then world. Despite the historical violence and disorganisation that Africa has suffered and inflicted on itself, these insights have been transmitted to us by our ancestors who believed in the harmony of vital forces, between human beings and the rest of creation. In our African spiritual heritage and our diverse faith traditions, trees, flowers, water, soil and animals have always been essential companions of human beings, without which life and being are inconceivable. We express this in different ways through our understanding of the world as God’s own beloved creation, and our sense of place and vocation within it. Our ways of thinking and feeling deeply influence the world around us. As we find compassion, peace and harmony within ourselves, we will begin to treat the Earth with respect, resist disorder and live in peace with each other, including embracing a binding climate treaty.

2. Our commitments as faith leaders
Our African people and nations have to overcome the temptation of seeing ourselves as victims, who have
no role and responsibility to play in reversing the current situation – we are part of the solution.
As African faith leaders, our responsibilities will be to:

  • Set a good example for our faith communities by examining our personal needs and reducing unsustainable consumption.
  • Lead local communities to understand the threat of climate change and the need to build  economies and societies based on a revitalised moral vision.
  • Draw on our spiritual resources to foster crucial ecological virtues such as wisdom, justice, courage and temperance, and to confront vices such as greed in our own midst.
  • Acknowledge that climate change has greatly affected already vulnerable people (such as women, children, the elderly, the poor and the disabled), that it worsens existing inequalities and that this places an obligation on faith groups to stand in solidarity with the victims of climate change disasters, showing care, compassion and love.
  • Plant indigenous trees and promote ecological restoration.

3. Our message to all world leaders
As citizens, we are asked to put our trust in representatives at COP17 to decide upon our common future.
We have no doubt that the Durban COP must decide on a treaty – and second commitment period for the
Kyoto Protocol – that is fair, ambitious and legally binding, to ensure the survival of coming generations.

We therefore call on you to:

  • Commit to the principle of inter‐generational equity, the rights of our children for generations to come, and to the rights of Mother Earth as outlined in the Cochabamba declaration.
  • Refute the myth that action to cut emissions is too expensive, when it is far cheaper than the longter costs of inaction.
  • Acknowledge that investments in sustainability are a better guarantor of peace than military spending.
  • Abandon Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as an indicator of prosperity in favour of indicators tha include human wellbeing, equality and the external environmental costs of human economies.
  • Set clear final targets for phasing out the use of all fossil fuels, and deep interim reductions in carbon emissions that support the target of no more than one degree of global warming.
  • Ensure that there is sufficient climate finance for adaptation in Africa, additional to existing development aid.
  • Channel sufficient and predictable climate finance and technology from the historic polluting nations, in recognition of their ecological debt, to enable Africa to leapfrog into an age of clean energy technology.
  • Close the gap between wealthy countries’ pledges to cut warming emissions and what science and equity require.
  • Assign for wealthy countries emission quotas that are consistent with the full measure of their historical responsibility.
  • Ensure that climate finance is governed in an inclusive and equitable manner under the United Nations.

4. Our message to Africa’s political leaders
We further urge African political leaders, as many of you are members of our faith communities, to take these particular measures:

  • To regain a united voice and abandon expedient allegiances with blocs that are scrambling to appropriate Africa’s natural resources.
  • Recognise in all policy statements that our long‐term social and economic interests require the stability of our biophysical environment today.
  • Prioritise measures and adopt policies to resolve environmental degradation in our nations.
  • Acknowledge and pre‐empt the violence at all levels that climate change and environmental degradation is already fueling on the continent.
  • Adopt and enact land policies that ensure equity and justice for all.
  • Resist the approval of transactions with exploitative corporations that would cause serious environmental damage.
  • Promote indigenous tree planting and protection of existing forests, lakes and rivers.
  • Build much greater capacity within long‐standing teams of climate negotiators.
  • Greatly improve communications within and between African governments, and consultation with civil society, including faith communities, on issues of climate change.

5. Conclusion
Every human generation is faced by particular challenges and opportunities. If we do not secure a stable
climate for the sake of future generations, we will be held accountable by them and judged by history.
On this very critical issue of climate change, we must not fail. Every lost moment increases an irreversible
threat to life on Earth.

8 June 2011

(This communique was compiled jointly by 130 faith leaders representing Muslim, Christian, Hindu, African traditional, Bahá'í and Buddhist communities from 30 countries across Africa.)

The All Africa Conference of Churches (www.aacc‐
Southern African Faith Communities' Environment
Institute (SAFCEI):
programme for Christina‐Myuslim Relatins in Africa (PROCMURA):

i Joeri Rogel, Claudine Chen, Julia Nabel and others, “Analysis of the Copenhagen Accord pledges and its global climatic impacts— a snapshot of dissonant ambitions”, Environmental Research Letters 5 (2010).

Friday, 15 July 2011

Arbroath Old and Abbey Church Eco Newsletter

Arbroath Old and Abbey Church produce their own Eco Newsletter. We have just received the current copy (PDF File).

Click here to download.

Douglas Valley Biomass Heating System

Some photographs of the Douglas Valley biomass heating system in South Lanarkshire. The system provides heat to St Brides Community Centre, the local church and a bowling club via underground pipes. This is an alternative form of heating which has lower environmental impact and could be cheaper to run than gas or oil in rural areas.

Use the pause, forward and back controls to control the slideshow.

Video about two Scottish eco-congregations

This video is from 2009 and features Arbroath Old and Abbey Church and Westray Church:

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Why your church should register as an Eco-Congregation

Having spoken to a lot of different churches over the past few months I have found some who are actively involved in environmental work, but who are not registered as eco-congregations. The two reasons I hear most often are:

  1. We are not doing enough to be counted as an eco-congregation.
  2. We are doing fine on our own and don't feel any need to join.

I would like to address these points and explain why your church should be registering as an eco-congregation:

1. We are not doing enough to be counted as an eco-congregation.
I think this is the result of confusion between registration as an eco-congregation and achieving the Eco-Congregation award. The Eco-Congregation Award does require a level of achievement but registering as an eco congregation requires none. Registration is a statement of intent (that you will reduce your carbon footprint by 5% per year for three years and undertake a basic environmental audit). Congregations registering have usually done nothing before registering. Often those who say they are "not doing enough" are often doing rather a lot without realising it.

2. We are doing fine on our own and don't feel the need to join.
Well resourced congregations with knowledgeable people in the pews find it quite easy to engage with environmental and climate change issues. Many have done considerable work on improving heating systems and reducing their carbon footprint. Its understandable that some of these would not gain anything for themselves from registering as eco-congregations, but by registering they will help other, less able, congregations. When we go to the government, or other funders, for financial support they want to see that we have widespread endorsement from church congregations across all areas of the country and all denominations. By registering as an eco-congregation you can help us to leverage money and practical support for churches that are not as able as yours. By identifiying with the Eco-Congregation movement you make it stronger even if you gain very little for yourselves.

Registration is free. All you have to do is go here and follow the instructions:

Registration helps you, helps other churches and helps people living in countries affected by climate change.

Gordon Hudson

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Strange Case of the Declining Numbers

Eagle eyed readers may have noticed that the number of eco-congregations in Scotland has dropped from 277 to 269 over the past week. There have been so many congregational mergers over the past year or so that we had to revise the list. The number of people involved in the programme has not changed. The number of eco-congregations is continuing to grow, but we now have an accurate figure to work from.. You can find out exactly how we worked out the new figure here.

Churches set sights on 90% carbon reduction

The Church of England Diocese of London has announced ambitious plans to reduce its carbon emissions by 90%.

The report, published yesterday, proposes a “model church” employing a range of low carbon measures that are most appropriate to churches. These include the use of smart meters, new technologies like biomass and solar panels. The report has been compiled by engineering consultancy Arup with the support of the Diocese of London and the Carbon Trust.
You can read the full news report here.

This is rather similar to the Eco-Diocese idea which has been discussed at various times here in Scotland.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Tuvalu and Climate Change

The presentation slides used by Rev Tafue Lusama of Ekalesia Kalesiano Tuvalu for his presentation to the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation. Please use the play, forward and back buttons to view the slides.

You can find out more about the effect climate change is having on Tuvalu in this article:

Thursday, 7 July 2011

St Ninians Old Parish Church Reduces Energy Consumption of Church Hall by 65%

Mike Adam
Mike Adam of St Ninians Old Parish Church has emailed us the latest energy saving figures from their refurbished church halls.

The good news is that over the 6 month period October 2010 to end of March 2011, our electricity usage was down by 65% compared to the previous winter. So they work. It did take the Playgroups some time to get used to them, but they are now converted to them and happy.

Here is the full information on the project and a link to further information on energy reduction in churches:

For St Ninians Parish Halls, we had identified at a fairly early stage that Air Source Heat pumps would be a desirable option to heat the halls. We too had advice from a CES appointed heating engineer/advisor, who had a preference for ground source heat pumps - but that would have been a much more expensive capital project, and I carried out a cost benefit analysis to show it would not be worthwhile. Sometimes advisers focus on technologies in which they have significant experience, and Air source Heat pump technology is new(ish) developing and improving fast - so quite demanding for consultants to keep up with. My own view is that contractors may be more up to date - but with the disadvantage of not being unbiased.
We looked at both air-to-air and air-to-water heat pump installations. Whilst the latter might be slightly more efficient, it is better suited to properties needing heating 24/7. A-WSHPs would also require a 'wet system' of pipework and radiators to be installed - intrusive, more expensive, and potential water leakage problems for the future, as well as having unsightly radiators on the walls. The attraction to us of A-ASHPs is that they can be switched on and provide heat within a few minutes. This fast response time suits a building like ours which does not have to be heated in all areas, all the time. It has frost protection installed, to maintain the building fabric significantly above freezing. This past winter was our first, the system having been commissioned in October 2010, and we did experience some problems with keeping temperatures high enough for pre-school children's groups who use the main hall each weekday morning. However the problem turned out to be that the air filters in the internal units had blocked up - once they were cleaned (a relatively easy operation) the problem was resolved. The problems we had were due to focussing too much on how early we should set the timers for the system to come on, and failing to recognise this technical issue. So I don't think that the AASHPs will be a problem for temperatures down to around -15C, as we experienced last year, though clearly their efficiency drops off with outside temperature.
The good news is that over the 6 month period October 2010 to end of March 2011, our electricity usage was down by 65% compared to the previous winter. So they work. It did take the Playgroups some time to get used to them, but they are now converted to them and happy.
We didn't retain the old radiant heaters as back-up, because they were old & unsightly and it would have cost us to get them rewired. Moreover it would have been too easy for users to select them rather than wait the 5-10 minutes for the AASHPs to get going.
I would say that it is so important to get the right contractor to do the installation. Get as many to come out and see the halls as early as practical, to get and assess their ideas. I know that our selected contractor, [name of contractor] , gave me the confidence they knew exactly what to do and how. They offered the best equipment - at the best price - and the most practical control features, which other tenderers could not match.

It is worth noting that the AASHP installation cost around £25K (we didn't have to pay VAT as it is a listed building, but VAT would only be at 5%), compared to £170K on insulation. The latter was much more expensive due to the standard of renovation required for a listed building. Without a major grant and planning constraints, a significantly less expensive insulation approach would have been adopted, but still focussing on proving 400mm glass wool insulation in ceilings, secondary glazing, and looking into practical cheaper options for insulating the walls. If we had had adequate space and access, underfloor insulation would have been considered. We were also able to get low energy lighting units with our grant from the Climate Challenge Fund, but under other circumstances they may have been lower priority. We also had to cope with a sizeable amount of wet rot, which was thankfully exposed by the improvement work.
Also see the description/photos in the following website:

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Professor Michael Northcott on a Theology for Climate Change

Professor Michael Northcott of Edinburgh University recently addressed a meeting of evangelical Christians at Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia. seems to me what we have to do is face the fact that at the heart of our refusal to engage with the issue of climate change is our consumption economy, and that our refusal to listen to the signs of change in the atmosphere and in the oceans and in the weather and in the earth's system more generally is a reflection of a spiritual problem of what the prophets would call idolatry and not just of materialism. (Professor Michael Northcott)
ABC Radio interviewed Professor Northcott about the issues:

A transcript is available here:

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Methodist Church Commits to Carbon Reduction

Following a church-wide consultation of church members the Methodist Conference has adopted a statement acknowledging the urgent need for radical cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr Richard Vautrey, former Vice President of the Methodist Church, said:

"The scientific analyses of climate change and the role of human greenhouse gas emissions are well-grounded. It is now morally irresponsible to fail to acknowledge and address the urgent need for radical cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent intolerable damage to human populations and mass extinctions of many plant and animal species."

The Methodist Church has also launched a web page giving practical advice on reducing your carbon emissions:

News report from Methodist Conference web site:

Friday, 1 July 2011

Fundraising and Online Donations

Eco-Congregation is not really an organisation. It is a grass roots movement of churches and individual Christians who want to take practical action on environmental issues. Although we get some money from the Scottish Government and some from church denominational bodies this is usually tied to specific projects. We have always, and will continue to be, reliant on the generosity of local church congregations and our individual supporters.

To make giving easier we now have an online donation facility. This has options for monthly or one off donations using debit or credit cards. The short, easy to remember, address is:

And it is also signposted from the front page of our web site.

All money raised through these donations will be used to support our local networks and new congregations joining our movement.