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

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)