USPG and Hope for the Future are joining together in the Make COP26 Count programme to support you and your church to act for climate justice. We want to offer you and your church a chance to make the most from the opportunity of the UK hosting COP26 to raise national and international ambition for climate justice.
We know that these are challenging times, and taking action can feel overwhelming. This programme aims to provide a framework which gives the support needed: monthly calls with other participants, input from USPG partners and global climate activists, and extensive, tailored support through the process of political advocacy.
For many years Christians across the world (many of whom are experiencing the most severe impacts of climate change whilst also being the least culpable for its cause) have challenged the UK church to act boldly, decisively and justly in response to the climate and ecological crisis. In solidarity we will heed this call and Make COP26 Count!
Today, 47 faith institutions from 21 countries, including nine institutions from the UK, announce their divestment from fossil fuels as a practical response to the climate emergency.
Participating institutions include five Catholic religious orders in the UK, two United Reformed Church Synods, UK-based local Anglican and Methodist churches, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (Catholic) and American Jewish World Service.
The urgency of divestment and a just and green recovery from Covid-19
The announcement coincides with the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Faith leaders’ action puts pressure on government leaders, and their commitment to clean energy stands in stark contrast with many governments’ failure to deliver ambitious energy strategies.
The UK government faces increasing pressure to demonstrate global leadership on the climate crisis ahead of the UN climate talks (COP26) taking place in Glasgow in November 2021. Earlier this month, 70 organisations launched The Climate Coalition’s 10 Point Plan for a Green, Healthy and Fair Recovery. This includes a call for the UK government to end all public support for fossil fuels overseas and support countries to leapfrog to renewable and efficient energy.
Lord Deben, Chair of the UK Committee on Climate Change, recently advocated for Catholic leaders to play a more active role when he addressed hundreds of people in a webinar organised by Operation Noah and others on Catholic investment for an integral ecology. He said: ‘It is hugely important for the Catholic community to be very visible… it must be very determined, and it must be clear that we all ought to be in this together.’
This week, from 19-21 November, Pope Francis has convened the ‘Economy of Francesco’, an online conference involving more than 1,000 young adults, which will explore innovative ways of shaping a sustainable economy. This conference builds on an announcement in June, when the Vatican recommended in its first-ever operational guidelines on ecology that all Catholic organisations divest from fossil fuels.
With renewables now growing at a faster pace than fossil fuels, institutional investors are increasingly moving toward sustainable investments in the clean energy economy. Faith investors are an important part of this movement, constituting the single-largest source of divestment in the world, making up one-third of all commitments.
UK Churches divesting from fossil fuels in response to the climate emergency
Thames North Synod and Southern Synod in the United Reformed Church are among the organisations participating in the announcement. The United Reformed Church (at a national level) and 10 out of 13 URC Synods have now completed divestment from fossil fuels, as recommended by the URC Mission Council in May 2019.
Trinity Methodist Church, Chelmsford, is another of the organisations announcing its decision to end investments in fossil fuel companies as part of the global divestment announcement. Last month, the Methodist Council voted to support a resolution on divestment from fossil fuel companies, agreeing that further action is needed by JACEI and the Central Finance Board to fully implement a motion on divestment passed by the 2017 Methodist Conference.
Earlier this year one of the Church of England’s three National Investing Bodies, which is managed by investment management company CCLA, sold its last remaining shares in fossil fuel companies. CCLA, whose CBF funds manage investments on behalf of most Church of England dioceses and many local Church of England churches, dropped its investments in oil giants Shell and Total for financial reasons.
Last month, the Church of England Pensions Board communicated its decision to divest from ExxonMobil as a result of the US oil company’s failure to set targets for Scope 3 emissions that are generated when customers burn fossil fuels. However, the Church Commissioners intends to continue investing in ExxonMobil, despite Exxon having blocked shareholder resolutions put forward by the Church of England at its AGM in 2019 and 2020. Exxon is also planning to increase production of oil and gas by 35% by 2030.
Revd Andrew Yates, Social Responsibility Officer, Truro Diocese writes:
I am sorry that we have not got together as the Cornwall Churches Environment Group for several months. There have been a lot of extra pressures for many of us because of the pandemic but I am also aware that as a result of the lockdowns there has been much talk about how life going forward can become more simple and more environmentally friendly. So this seems like a good time to come together to ask two questions?
How is your church locally and regionally moving forward in Caring for Creation ?
Is there anything to be gained from greater collaboration in this area ?
So you are invited to a Zoom meeting on December 8th at 1pm to talk this through. Please feel free to share this invite with anyone you think might be interested. Please register in advance for the meeting on this link. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email from ‘Diocese of Truro 2’ containing the Zoom link for joining the meeting. By registering we are making the meeting more secure against hackers. If you have any problems with registering, please email Rosey Sanders and she will email on the link to you. We wouldn’t want you to miss the meeting! You will have to create a Zoom account if you do not already have one on https://us02web.zoom.us/signup.
A webinar exploring green church theology and practice, drawing on practical examples of green church initiatives.
About this Event
An exploration of the theological landscape for the ongoing debate about the Climate Emergency and the church’s response
It is hoped that the webinar will draw on practical examples of green church initiatives to help us develop our understanding of caring for creation as part of the mission of the church.
Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich
Having completed an undergraduate degree in ecology, Bishop Graham maintains an interest in ecology as a member of the Church of England’s Environmental Working Group. He is a keen beekeeper, regularly tweets @bishopnorwich and has written about spirituality and landscape in Places of Enchantment, Meeting God in Landscapes, and his second book, The Way Under Our Feet: A Spirituality of Walking, in April 2020.
Prof Richard Bauckham
New Testament scholar, previously at St Andrew’s University, and a visiting professor of St Mellitus College.
His books include: Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (2006), God Crucified: Monotheism and Christology in the New Testament (1998), The Theology of the Book of Revelation (1993) and Bible and Ecology (2010).
Prof Revd Michael Northcott:
Anglican Priest, Professor Emeritus, Edinburgh University and currently Guest Professor at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Heidelberg. His specialism is the environment. Books include: Place, Ecology and the Sacred (2015); A Moral Climate: The Ethics of Global Warming (2007); The Environment and Christian Ethics (1996).
In 1989 the Ecumenical Patriarch suggested that 1 September, the first day of the Eastern Orthodox Church year, should be observed as a day “of protection of the natural environment”. Ten years later the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) widened this proposal, urging churches to adopt a Time for Creation stretching from 1 September to the feast of St Francis on 4 October and this was endorsed by the 3rd European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu, Romania in 2007, which recommended that the period “be dedicated to prayer for the protection of Creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles that reverse our contribution to climate change”.
Since 2008 Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) has compiled a programme of resources to encourage and assist churches to observe Creation Time. These include suggestions on a variety of ways in which churches, groups and individuals could choose to focus on a creation theme at this particular time of the year. Pope Francis made the Catholic Church’s warm welcoming of the season official in 2015, using powerful words last year to encourage participation in the ecumenical Season of Creation:
“This is the season for letting our prayer be inspired anew by closeness to nature…to reflect on our lifestyles…for undertaking prophetic actions…directing the planet towards life, not death.”
Creation Time 2020
We have known for decades that this time will come. We have been made aware of the rapid extinction of beautiful and unique creatures. Thanks to the honest and disciplined work of climate scientists, we know (unless we fall victim to fake news) right now, that our lifestyle is unsustainable, and our dominant philosophy of ‘permanent growth at all cost’ carries the seeds of the destruction of the life that God called good.
Over and above the foolish stewardship of land and resources, yet closely allied to it, is the crisis of values, and of spirituality; a twisted and self-deceptive view of ‘profit’. The whole Christian family now has an unprecedented opportunity and calling: to bring together mission, justice, stewardship, and study: to bring out of our ‘treasure’ the determinative priorities and values that are so different from those piloting Creation towards catastrophe. And above all, to take note of, and act on, and trust in, the worth we are given (each and all of us) in Christ. The worth and encouragement we may give to our neighbour, and our fellow creature, in partnership, rather than exploitation. May we cherish and be empowered by the knowledge of our enduring and transforming worth in the sight of God. Even if, until now, we have indeed pursued ‘worthless things’.
You can download all the resources as individual weeks or be emailed a complete set.
Our writers are drawn from a variety of church backgrounds and pastoral contexts, so do not expect that they all speak with one voice or perspective. We all share, as Pope Francis as said, a ‘Common Home’, and offer this work in trust that there is no one whose contribution is not vital to the healing partnership of Christ with God’s Creation. The God of the Bible’s tendency, observable in these readings, to ‘bring the baddies on board’ should steer us to a conciliatory approach, rather than a blame-game, fruitless denial of the crisis, or a complacent acceptance of the principles, whilst reserving exceptions for ourselves. The bottom line, is the love for your neighbour, as yourself.
The Season of Creation (1 September-4 Ocober) is a time to renew our relationship with our Creator and all creation through celebration, conversion, and commitment together. During the Season of Creation, we join our sisters and brothers in the ecumenical family in prayer and action for our common home.
Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) is an action-focused community of Christians in the UK aged 18-30, choosing to follow Jesus in the pursuit of climate justice, launching Saturday 1 August.
They have three aims:
to connect young Christians into an inclusive community engaged with climate justice
to take and facilitate collective action towards climate justice, motivated by faith
to see themselves and their communities grow in passion and understanding, learning with humility and reflection
The network is ecumenical – the set-up team has members from the Anglican, Methodist, Baptist and Quaker traditions. You can follow YCCN on instagram, twitter and facebook (all @YCCNetwork). Why not get in touch with them, or point young people you know to their website or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to join the network or get more information?
The World Council of Churches (WCC) today releases a collection of curated resources to support churches, church-run schools, Sunday schools and summer camps in their ongoing efforts to promote care for children and youth through intergenerational climate- and environmental justice. The toolkit supports the Churches’ Commitments to Children, in which climate initiatives for and with children is an important pillar.
“Many of the young climate activists around the world come from churches,” said WCC interim general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca. “WCC has created this toolkit to help churches to provide space for the development of solutions and promote the adaptation of our systems with and for children and youth.”
According to Frederique Seidel, WCC’s senior advisor on children’s rights, the Churches’ Commitments to Children Online Platform has received many requests to support intergenerational climate justice initiatives. These requests motivated the development of the toolkit that gathers dozens of resources to empower churches to take action for climate justice.
“We have witnessed that engagement of children and youth in climate solutions is the best way to respond to the eco-anxiety, which has increased among children around the world. Many of the tools can also be adapted for uplifting activities during confinement in the COVID-19 context,” said Seidel.
The toolkit invites readers to get informed, get inspired and take action for climate justice. The online publication is being released during the European summer break so that teachers and facilitators have time to integrate the material into the new school year and Sunday school plans, which in some parts of the world start in September.
The development of the toolkit was supported through the Keeling Curve Prize, which was awarded to the WCC in 2019 for its global warming mitigation efforts.