On Wednesday 11th August the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) issued a stark warning about the future of our planet if humanity does not address urgently the challenges of Climate Change. As Christians we need to do all we can for Creation Care and support our young people in their demands for climate justice.
The Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) has begun a Relay pilgrimage from the G7 summit in St Ives to Glasgow, where world leaders will meet in November for important climate negotiations at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) which is the last opportunity to have a global action plan to save our civilisation and the living planet. The 750-mile Relay aims to raise awareness of COP26 and spark conversations around climate and creation care theology within local churches and communities across the UK. Along the route, the pilgrimage will stop in 10 cities for a multi-day Residency and Birmingham is one of them!
The Climate Sunday Initiative organised by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) has encouraged churches to hold a Climate Sunday Service on 5th September which we have registered to do. We will dedicate our donation for Heart of England Forest in that service as part of our response to the IPCC’s warning this year. As a church we have also signedTheTime is Now Declaration to impress on our Prime Minister the need to take the lead in the international negotiations at COP26 – see the declaration below.
Nationally The Climate Coalition is organising a Great Big Green Week (18-26 September). Locally Stratford Climate Action is organising activities including Pledge for the Planet. Joining in these activities is a good way to show our Care for Creation with our local community.
Lim and Evelyn Ho
Dear Prime Minister, The time is now to lead the UK towards a healthier, greener, fairer future. Ahead of hosting the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow in 2021, we can build back better together if we:
Unleash a clean energy revolution that boosts jobs across the UK, making our transport, power and housing fit for the future
Protect, restore and expand our green and wild spaces; allowing nature to thrive, taking carbon from the air and boosting the nation’s health
Leave no one behind by increasing support to those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change at home and abroad
The UK must lead the world by ensuring our recovery gets us on track to net-zero emissions and limits the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees C. Our best chance of building a resilient economy goes hand in hand with tackling climate change.
We are ready to play our part, and we call on you to join us.
Stewards of God’s creation through Tree Planting
This year the Green Group has been focusing on trees and forests. In the past, we have raised funds for tree planning overseas via Green Christian’s Rainforest Fund, but this year, as the UK hosts the climate change conference in Glasgow later in the year, we are looking to support tree planting closer to home.
Large-scale tree planting makes a significant positive environmental impact, creating a carbon sink to help counteract the effects of climate change. Trees and woodland also help reduce flood risk, prevent soil erosion, provide habitats which support a wide range of wildlife and places for us to visit and be in nature.
Warwickshire is one of the least forested counties in Britain, so we are hoping to raise money to plant as many trees in our home county as possible this year.
The Heart of England Forest charity was set up in 2003 to reverse centuries of forest decline with a vision to plant, protect and preserve 30,000 acres of broadleaved woodland stretching from the ancient Forest of Arden south to the edge of the Vale of Evesham. It has woodlands close to Stratford-upon-Avon and so far, nearly 1.9 million trees have been planted over an area of 7,000 acres, which incorporate a diverse range of habitats; new tree planting, mature and ancient woodland, grassland, heathland, farmland and wetland which support a diverse range of plants and animals for people to enjoy.
Every £5 we can raise will plant, protect, and nurture a new tree in the Forest. In addition, we will tag a more mature tree in the tree dedication area at Dorothy’s Wood at Barton, near Bidford, as a living memorial dedicated to the memory of loved ones who have died over the last two years. Once it has been tagged, we will arrange a dedication that we will film to share with the congregation. The woodlands have public access and parking, so that over the years to come, all those who are able, can go and visit the tagged tree and enjoy the woodland.
If you would like to make a donation in August, please send a cheque payable to Stratford on Avon Methodist Church on the front and Heart of England Forest on the back and send to the Treasurer. Make a transfer through your bank. To Stratford on Avon Methodist Church, Sort code 40-43-19 A/C No. 60785466 Marking your gift Heart of England Forest. The fund raised will be dedicated at Climate Sunday Service on 5th September.
If you have loved ones you would like remembered as part of the dedication, please forward the names to our Partnership Officer.
The mechanism of climate change is global, but its effects are local. Different parts of the world are affected in different ways by changes in climate. In some places, the problem is drought – lack of rainfall. In others, it is increasingly heavy rain, especially in storms. Changes in climate mean pests and diseases are moving to new areas. And looking ahead, rising sea-levels will affect low-lying parts of the world. These changes not only bring immediate risks to people’s lives: in the long-term they threaten agriculture and communities’ abilities to feed and sustain themselves.
Some of these changes are being seen already, while others are credible predictions. But whether we look at current difficulties or future problems, the worst effects of climate change tend to fall on those least able to deal with them. It is people in the Global South – in places like east Africa which are already affected by drought or places like Bangladesh, where a substantial proportion of the population live in areas prone to flooding – that climate change has and will have the greatest effect.
Yet the people most affected have negligible carbon footprints. It is affluent countries like Britain that bear the greatest responsibility for the increased levels of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. Countries like Britain began the process of using fossil fuels to drive economic growth more than two centuries ago – and with our affluent lifestyles, we continue to make significant contributions to emissions today.
The impacts of climate change thus reflect existing inequalities, with poorer countries facing the worst effects while having the fewest resources to adapt to or deal with those impacts. Richer countries are better placed to manage the effects of climate change – yet even here, poorer people will struggle most to cope with rising temperatures, increasing food prices or recovery from storms and floods.
And looking ahead, it is the young people of today who will see the threats and dangers of climate change – a change brought about in the lifetimes of their parents and grand-parents.
This is why recent campaigns like Extinction Rebellion and Fridays for the Future have called not only for action on climate change but also for action on climate justice. Climate justice is not about punishment but about fairness. Those who have benefited the most from the economic expansion driven by fossil fuels should bear the costs of meeting the challenges of climate change.
What might this mean in practice? An obvious starting point is the need for richer countries to make available resources to poorer countries to help them cope with climate change. The transfer of $100 billion a year from rich to poor countries has been accepted as a target – but richer countries are proving unwilling to find the money. One of the major challenges of the forthcoming COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November will be finding a way to finance this level of support.
And for us as individuals? We must first accept our responsibility (Luke 9:13) then we can act. We can call on our Government to give priority to helping countries in the Global South through COP26. But we must also look at what is being done in Britain and locally and ask: how far are existing inequalities making it difficult for others to cope with climate change? And what can we personally do about it?
We do not own the world and its riches are not ours to dispose of at will.
Roger Matthews (Stratford Quakers)
June Green Corner
A Green Recovery
You may have heard the phrase “green recovery” recently. It’s the idea that, although Covid 19 continues to be a great tragedy, the economic recovery gives us an opportunity to build a greener, more sustainable future.
It was Christian Aid week during May, so I looked at what the charity has to say about this.
As Audrey pointed out in a recent sermon, Christian Aid does not shy away from issues that might be controversial as it seeks to stand in Jesus’ footprints here on earth. The charity says a lot about climate change, as for the past ten years it has witnessed some of the world’s poorest communities suffering the effects of a changing climate such as natural disasters, lower agricultural yields and increased poverty. Christian Aid argues that this is an issue of justice. Those who are suffer most are often those who have contributed the least to climate change; therefore the richer countries who have contributed most to the problem have a responsibility to support poorer nations in dealing with the climate emergency.
Christian Aid’s recent report “Whose Green Recovery?” applauds steps taken by governments around the world to make the make the recovery from the pandemic a green one – from tree planting jobs in Pakistan, to renewable energy in Senegal, to schemes worth billions of pounds for green investment and job creation announced by both the UK and EU.
However the UK and EU are giving even more support to high-carbon industries such as transport, and are missing the opportunity to make bailouts conditional on commitments to de-carbonise. Some richer nations – including our own – have also cut their overseas aid budgets, and developing countries have yet to receive the amount of financial assistance promised by richer nations as part of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. The gap between rich and poor countries is in danger of growing wider. This is bad news, and not just for poorer communities. To help their own economies recover, developing countries’ governments may be forced to invest in cheap forms of energy – fossil fuels, especially coal – which will add to their carbon emissions.
Covid 19 and the climate crisis both highlight how inter-connected our world is. Christian Aid makes the case that the UK (and other rich nations) must link its economic recovery to committing to a truly green transition – both within and beyond its borders. This is the right and just thing to do. But it also makes good, practical sense if the world is to achieve its goal of limiting climate change.
And what can we do? It’s easy to feel powerless when hearing about such worldwide issues, but we can all play our small part. Whether we pray for our global neighbours, donate to help communities battling the climate crisis, sign petitions (Christian Aid is campaigning for debt cancellation for poorer countries post-Covid) or join a protest march, it all counts.