Eco-church

In September 2019, in the light of the climate and loss of biodiversity crises, Christ Church launched an “Eco -Group”, with the aim of examining our own responsibilities in this area. By working towards the A Rocha Eco-Church awards, we are looking at all aspects of church life, from the way we use our buildings and grounds to the worship and teaching and our individual lifestyles. Through regular input into Church meeting and items in our monthly magazine, Comment, these issues are kept in the foreground of our thinking. The most recent four articles in Comment can be found below.

 

Item from July/August 2022

“Carbon Bombs” 
As I write this, the news on just one day includes the following.  
-  Significant sea level rise is now inevitable, with sea levels around the English coast forecast to be 35cm higher by 2050, resulting in maybe 200,000 homes having to be abandoned.  
-  New data has revealed extraordinary rates of global heating in the North Barents Sea, an area of the Arctic, up to 7 times faster than the global average. The loss of sea ice, good at reflecting sunlight, allows the darker ocean to absorb more energy and also means it no longer limits the warming of the Arctic air. The more ice is 
lost, the more heat accumulates, forming a feedback loop. 
-  In India as a whole, March was the hottest ever recorded, with scorching summer temperatures arriving two months early. In Pakistan’s Balochistan region, temperatures have, over several weeks, repeatedly‘it almost 50C. (Will such a region continue to be habitable?) This intense and prolonged heatwave is having a 
devastating effect on this year’s wheat and fruit crops.  
-  In the USA, Yellowstone National Park was forced to close after record levels of rainfall caused major 
flooding, washing away sections of road. 


In the face of all the evidence of damaging climate change, it is extraordinary to learn that the major oil and gas companies continue to plan massive new projects whose carbon emissions would wreck any prospect of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees. Over 5 months and following on from the pledges made at COP26, a global team of Guardian environment reporters has worked with leading thinktanks, analysts and academics across the world and identified no less than 195 of these so called “carbon bombs”, each of which would result in at least a billion tonnes of CO2  emissions over their lifetimes, in total equivalent to about 18 years of current global CO2 emissions. Twenty-two mega-projects in the US account for more than a fifth of these potential emissions.  


The better news is that a coalition of environmental lawyers, investigative journalists and campaigners has launched a group to challenge the “carbon bomb” fossil fuel projects revealed in this investigation. After a meeting in May, more than 70 NGOs and activist groups from around the world have formed a “carbon bomb 
defusal” network to share expertise and resources in the fight to halt the projects and prevent the catastrophic climate breakdown they would cause. But they have much to do to challenge some very powerful organisations and vested interests. 


Prof Kevin Anderson, from the Tyndall Centre of Climate Research, University of Manchester and Uppsala University,“weden, said, “Either the scientists have spent30 years working on this issue and‘ave got it  all wrong – the big oil CEOs know better; or, behind a veil of concern, they have complete disregard for the more climate 
vulnerable communities, typically poor, people of colour and far away from their lives. Equally worrying, they are disinterested in their own children’s future.” 


The shift from burning oil and gas cannot happen overnight, and a declining amount will still need to be burned during the transition to a net zero emissions global economy in 2050. But we have to question whether companies and governments are acting with any sense of urgency or real concern for our future and that of 
God’s creation as a whole. 
 
   
 

Item from June 2022

The latest UN report on our changing climate, “The State of the Global Climate in 2021”, was published on 18th May and makes for sobering reading.  The last seven years have been the hottest on record and four key climate change indicators – greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean heat and ocean acidification – set new records in 2021.  Severe and damaging weather events are increasing in frequency.  Most recently we have seen deadly flooding in South Africa, extreme heat in Pakistan and Northern India and a drought emergency developing in the Horn of Africa.  Antonio Guterres, the secretary general of the UN said, “Today’s State of the Climate report is a dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption.  Fossil fuels are a dead end – environmentally and economically…….. The only sustainable future is a renewable one.”

Prof Petteri Taalas, the UN World Meteorological Organization) secretary general, said: “Our climate is changing before our eyes.  Human-induced greenhouse gases will warm the planet for many generations to come.  Some glaciers have reached the point of no return and this will have long-term repercussions in a world in which more than 2 billion people already experience water stress.”

Meanwhile, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and oil and gas companies continue to plan scores of vast projects that threaten to shatter the 1.5C climate goal.  Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest surged to record levels in April, nearly doubling the area of forest removed in that month last year, the previous April record.

Prof James Hansen, who warned about the climate crisis in testimony to the US Senate back in 1988, said there has been “a spectacular, continuing failure of governments to adopt effective long-term energy and climate policies.”  But, says Antonio Guterres, “the good news is that the lifeline is right in front of us. Wind and solar are readily available and, in most cases, cheaper than coal and other fossil fuels. If we act together, the renewable energy transformation can be the peace project of the 21st century.”

Much food for thought – and prayer.  Kate Helleur

 

 

Item From Comment May 2022 

Have you ever wondered about the greenhouse gas emissions from doing the laundry? It seems that the way we wash and dry our clothes can make quite a difference to our carbon footprint.

• It is the way we dry the washing that has the biggest impact; a 40 degree load that is dried in a tumble drier produces 3-4 times the emissions as one dried on the line, inside or out.

• For a washing machine that you keep for 10 years and use efficiently, the embodied emissions from the manufacture and delivery of the appliance account for nearly 80% of the carbon footprint of each wash. So we should keep and repair appliances for as long as possible.

• Modern washing powders work just as well at 30 degrees; keeping the temperature down makes a significant difference to the energy used.

• Wash when you have a full load; half-loads are much less efficient per garment washed.

Popping our clothes into the washing machine has become so easy – but do we sometimes wash our clothes unnecessarily often? Do we like to iron more than is actually necessary? Perhaps, by doing the best thing for the environment, we can even save ourselves time and money as well!             

 

 

 

Item From Comment March 2022       

 How bad are bananas? Going shopping can sometimes feel like an ethical minefield. Is it most important to us that a product is organic or locally produced or fairly traded or not wrapped in plastic or cheap or kind to the climate or……..?

It’s rarely possible to achieve it all! But, with our food purchases making up about one quarter of an average UK person’s carbon footprint, our choices here can really make a difference in terms of the climate emergency. There are a few general principles.

• Eat less meat and dairy and especially less beef and lamb. Imported beef from deforested land is the worst choice of all. A vegetarian diet saves 25% of the carbon footprint from your food and a vegan diet can save 40%.

• Eat everything you buy - about 20% of food purchased currently ends up being thrown away. Don’t buy more than you need, learn to love leftovers.

• Avoid airfreighted food. The good news is that fruit and veg that are robust enough to go on a boat are not a problem. Apples (even from New Zealand), bananas, oranges, pineapples and melons are usually fine. Beans or tender-stem broccoli from Africa are usually not, and the worst offenders would be such as Californian grapes or blueberries or asparagus from Peru.

Of course we all have our own priorities and will make our choices based on those. And we should enjoy our food rather than be filled with guilt! But if we can avoid air-freighted food, aim to buy in season and make our diet as plant-based as possible, we will be on the right track.

Fact for the day: a litre of bottled water has over 1,000 times the carbon impact as tap water. (In a country with safe to drink tap water, do we need it?)