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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 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 ๐Ÿƒ and shining ☀️ with hope today. #ClimateStrike #GlobalClimateStrike #FridaysForFuture pic.twitter.com/eRunfbxvXq — Stephen Trew (@stephentrew) September 20, 2019

irish Churches Blog Post: The Arctic is on fire and it’s about to be hit by a heatwave.

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This blog post  first appeared on the Irish Council of Churches blog on 20 August 2019 The Arctic is on fire and it’s about to be hit by a heatwave.  This is a headline as I write at the beginning of August 2019. The number of arctic fires in 2019 is ‘unprecedented’ according to the World Meteorological Organisation. Hundreds of fires burn in Alaska, Greenland and Siberia, some of them are 100,000 times larger than a football pitch. In July the average temperatures in Siberia were almost 6 degrees Celsius above average. That headline seems to foreshadow the Biblical passages that explain how the earth will be destroyed. For example, 2 Peter 3:10–11 ‘The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? ‘ The last line in that verse echoed in my mind, ‘What kind of people out you to be?’ In an age of

Care for Creation - final version

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  The editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette  (paywall) asked me to write an article for the June edition on Care for Creation. I started an introductory article but I woke early one morning thinking it was just too bland. The Gazette needs to be a magazine of stimulating debate. So I started again. Here is the final version. If you'd like to read the first draft it's on the blog too it is  Care for Creation draft 1 , --- I’m sitting at my computer at 4 am. I had already drafted the article the Editor of the Gazette asked me to write to introduce Care for Creation. But I’ve just woken up in the middle of the night thinking ‘this has to change’, the Gazette needs to be a place of provocative debate and opinion. Here is the one part of the original article I’m keeping: Care for creation Why should we care for creation? As the Rev Dr Chris Wright puts it in his book, The Mission of God’s People, "The Bible does not begin at Genesis 3 (or end at Revelation

Care for Creation - draft 1

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In an article in this week's Church of Ireland Gazette I refer to a first draft that I did not use. We'll, this is it. Care for Creation Asuncion is a hot and steamy city, and January 2007 was no exception. Giant black thunder clouds towered above us, the warm large raindrops spotted the ground and moments later the torrential downpour began. The tropical storm was so intense the road between us and the school, where we worked as missionary teachers, was soon a fast-flowing torrent of dirty water. The pools of water lay in hollows in the streets, in piles of sodden rubbish, and in the hollows of old tyres. In these humid pools mosquitoes bred. We had grown used to mosquitos, they had that high pitched buzz and irritating bite, but that April brought the ades aegypti mosquito and the epidemic of Dengue Fever, the first ever in Paraguay. We tied up mosquito nets around our beds and made sure that each morning we sprayed ourselves and our children with repellant. Dengue