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Speech to General Synod 2022

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Photo from Stephen Spillane The support from the RCB to parishes, dioceses and cathedrals during the Covid-19 emergency was most welcome. It helped us worship in difficult at times. May I suggest we use this model of support to respond to other emergencies too. The World Health Organisation said in October last year that, “the single biggest health threat facing humanity” is Climate change. We must take decisive action. I want to thank the RCB for leading the way by divesting and supporting the Creation Care Conference in April.  But it is also up to every diocese, every parish, and every one of us to take action. We need a grassroots movement to transform our churches and our lives for a sustainable future. And church leaders, you might need to sow some fresh seed to help the grass roots grow. I think the RCB can support this movement by responding to the Climate Emergency, just as it did with Covid. For example, How many of you clergy have lived in a cold and drafty p

The inside story of how Presbyterians in Ireland Divested from Fossil Fuels

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It's been a while since I've updated this blog, life has been busy. But I want to capture my feeling and thoughts from over the last few months with some back-dated posts. Here goes... My goodness, they did it!  The Presbyterians followed the Church of Ireland's lead and also committed to full divestment from fossil fuels. This means they will move about £3m out of BP and Shell - wow! A press release on the news was published on the Presbyterian Church website.  Here are some quotes from it. 'Climate change is not only an environmental issue. Climate change is a poverty issue. It’s a hunger issue. It’s an issue of inequality and injustice.’ - Prof Katharine Hayhoe The church is adopting a 'divest and engage' strategy, which means dumping investments from companies that extract fossil fuels and engaging with large consumers of fossil fuels so that they set targets for Net-Zero emissions. Some of the mainstream press also picked up the story, for example   RTE Ne

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland to vote on fossil fuel divestment

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  Photo by  Lukasz Szmigiel  on  Unsplash There have been a number of very positive statements from the PCI in the last few months on climate change, and today there is an opportunity for action to stop funding fossil fuels. The church's decision to support The Climate Sundays initiative is really positive. The moderator is encouraging congregations across Ireland to set aside one Sunday in October as `Climate Sunday' to focus on God's creation and humanity's responsibility to be good stewards of it. Rev Dr David Bruce also produced a Climate Conversation video to outline briefly some of the theological reasons why Christians should take climate change seriously and care for creation. This is all very welcome. Another key moment will be today, Tuesday 5th October, when the General Assembly will vote on a motion to divest from fossil fuels. It aims to fully divest from fossil fuel production companies that it holds - that's £5m in BP, Shell and Total - and to engag

Speech to General Synod 2021

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Achieving divestment from all fossil fuel extraction companies this year is an exceptional result. I believe this amounts to around €50m being moved out of fossil fuels over the last decade, with no negative impact to investment return performance. I must thank Mr Henry Saville and the Investment Committee, and the staff at the RCB, especially Sarah Dunne, for working hard to achieve the target in the private members motion from 2018. I'd also like to thank the Methodist President, The Rev Dr Yambasu for reminding us earlier that in many issues the "the poorest and most vulnerable suffer the most", that “the world is our family”, and we must cooperate to respond to these justice issues. This is not a bandwagon, it is an integral part of our mission. And all of us need to sing from the hymn sheet of justice. Some of us might be little out-of-tune, but when we act together, we can act in harmony. The Archbishop of Armagh’s presidential address yesterday presents a real c

The Archbishop of Armagh challenges the Church of Ireland on climate change

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In his presidential address at the Church of Ireland General Synod yesterday the Archbishop of Armagh, The Most Reverand John McDowell, challenged the Church of Ireland to respond with a greater purpose to the climate crisis. He announced that the Representative Church Body had completed divestment from all fossil fuels. This is a tremendous achievement and sets an example to churches in Ireland and around the world to stop funding an industry that is destroying nature and harming human health. As the Archbishop said, "we should be proud of it". He went on to challenge the church saying that if we are to have any credibility as the People of God, "we will need to bake environmental sensitivity and action into our everyday life as a Church". Action is needed at the parish and personal level, he said, so that a carbon footprint assessment, "is as natural to us as an Easter Vestry return and that we act on its results."  Throughout his comments he stressed th

#EarthDay 2021 and church divestment

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#EarthDay 2021 Will be remembered as a key day in the history of churches divesting from fossil fuels in Ireland. First of all, within the Church of Ireland, a friend of mine met with the Archbishop of Armagh to present a plan for climate action ahead of cop 26 later this year. The plan involves announcing full divestment from fossil fuels, making a commitment to net-zero emissions, and planning a theological conference on care for creation next year. The Archbishop agreed to proceed on each point of the plan. Later that day, I got a phone call from a senior Presbyterian minister who wanted to speak to me about plans for their church to divest from fossil fuels also. I had a very nice chat with her and it turns out that a proposal was put to the General Executive earlier this year to act, but it was decided to put it to a vote at General Assembly. We arranged a meeting later this week with other senior staff from the headquarters of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, over zoom of cour

We're divesting! But how will it be measured?

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The Church of Ireland Synod 2020 is now on. This time it is being held virtually over Zoom, which allows an important meeting to take place but does come with challenges (echo, echo!).  Divestment is finally in black and white but a question remained on how it will be measured. The General Synod Book of Reports was published a few days before and it included for the first time a commitment to fully divest from fossil fuels. It's fantastic to see it in print and it created quite a bit of interest on Twitter, Full divestment coming from the @churchofireland ! https://t.co/UZg4h1n5RF — Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) November 30, 2020 The key documents for divestment in the Book of Reports are the Environment, Social and Governance Policy and the Policy on Climate Change (pages 99 and 101). Close examination of these policies led to some questions in my mind.  So I gave this short speech at the synod, "If you Google, ‘Energy sector performance 2019’, you read results like this,

Belfast Climate Strike

Belfast was alive 🍃 and shining ☀️ with hope today. #ClimateStrike #GlobalClimateStrike #FridaysForFuture pic.twitter.com/eRunfbxvXq — Stephen Trew (@stephentrew) September 20, 2019