Christ Church Eco-Group - Item from Comment October 2019

Care for Creation

It was decided at Church Meeting that a new group was needed to consider the urgent issue of climate change as well as care for the environment more generally, and what we, at Christ Church, should be doing about it. A group of ten met for the first time on September 5th and made a start on how to address this important task.

Neil is committed to creation care being part of his ministry. We agreed to do a carbon audit of our buildings, with a view to looking into how we might improve our energy efficiency and also to find out from all the groups who use the buildings to what extent they conduct their activities in an environmentally friendly way. But it may be that the biggest impact could in fact come from how we live our lives as individuals and the choices we each make – what and how much we buy, where and how often we travel -  so you will see regular items in Comment and at Church Meetings offering ideas and tips as to how we can live more sustainably. It is a responsibility for us all.


Item from Comment November 2019

As a church we have resolved to put creation care high up on our agenda and to learn more about what we each need to do to protect our unique planet from potentially disastrous climate change. To quote Christian Aid, “The communities Christian Aid works with are not facing a climate crisis. They’re already living with it. From indigenous communities struggling to survive while the Amazon burns to pastoralists in Kenya plagued with drought, those who have done the least to cause the climate crisis are now living and dying with the consequences. This is a deep injustice that is hurting the world’s poorest communities………….. As a country that’s grown wealthy through fossil fuels and through extracting natural resources and cheap labour from poorer countries, the UK has a moral obligation to the world’s poorest people to act.”

To tackle the climate emergency the world needs urgently to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases, the most significant of these being carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. So, as all of us use electricity and most of us have a gas boiler, we need to take what energy saving measures we can at home – which of course will save you money as well! Turning your central heating thermostat down 1 degree, for example, saves you £80 per year according to the Energy Saving Trust, as well as 320kg of carbon dioxide.

Ultimately all energy needs to be produced from renewable sources – wind, solar, tidal – and the government has a target to achieve zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. Many argue that to keep global warming within safe levels this date should be sooner. So you might consider switching your supplier to one that only sells you energy from renewable sources. A Which report identifies just two companies who “consistently generate enough renewable electricity themselves to match customer use, or buy the equivalent directly from generators.” These are Ecotricity and Good Energy. You will pay a little more, but the higher prices are directly due to the support they give to growing these new technologies. Many of the claims for other “green tariffs” are unfortunately confusing at best and inaccurate at worst and provide you with considerably less energy from renewable sources than you probably think.

You might find it helpful to calculate your own household carbon footprint, which can be easily done  online; WWF offers a simple calculator, for example, but many different versions are available via a bit of Googling. The annual carbon footprint of the average Briton is around 10 tonnes, but the figure considered to be a sustainable yearly quota for the world's 6 billion inhabitants is just two tonnes apiece. Whether or not we understand these specific measurements, it is clear that those of us who live in the developed Western world are going to have to rethink the way we live.

Something you can do to mitigate your own unavoidable carbon emissions is to contribute to one of the offsetting schemes which are available, meaning that you support, for example, various climate care projects or tree planting schemes. Again, a quick internet search will show you a range of options.

If you would like further information about any of these suggestions, do ask Kate Helleur and we can find out the answer together! Specific ideas for living in a more climate-friendly way will be following in the coming months.         


Item from Comment December 2019

As Christians we often dislike the materialism and visible over-consumption of the Christmas season. But do we also consider the environmental impact of that?

Everything that we buy has an environmental consequence and affects climate change in some way through the energy that will have been used in its manufacture and transport. In the run-up to Christmas all the stores are trying to persuade us that a happy Christmas involves a great deal of shopping. So a good policy – throughout the year in fact, but particularly at Christmas when the messages to buy more are so insistent – is simply, buy less stuff; what we need but not more.

Buy local where possible. We have become used to any food we fancy being available in the supermarkets, especially at Christmas when we may want to offer something a bit special. But perhaps we should just think before we buy those blueberries from Peru or kiwis from New Zealand. Anything perishable from very far away will have been flown here – do we really want that item enough to be comfortable with the extra greenhouse gases its journey will have produced?

A major concern we have all woken up to in recent months has been to do with our over-use of plastic, the main focus being on “single-use” plastics and unnecessary over-packaging. We have all been horrified by pictures of the amount of plastic floating about in the oceans and impacting on wild life. Christmas cards or wrapping paper that are shiny or feature glitter will involve an element of plastic and will not therefore be recyclable. We should stick with paper that is recyclable or recycled - preferably both! Presents can be tied with wool or raffia or re-usable ribbon rather than stuck with Sellotape and parcels secured with old-fashioned brown paper gummed tape. Should we want any new decorations perhaps we can avoid the plastic ones and go for those made from natural materials.

Have a wonderful, planet-friendly Christmas!