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Showing posts from 2015

Letter to the Gazette: Church response to climate change

A letter published in the Chrurch of Ireland Gazette, 20 November 2015:


On 30th November, world leaders will meet for one of the most crucial conferences ever – the UN Paris Climate Change Conference, ‘Paris 2015’, also known as the 21st Conference of Parties or ‘COP21’.


The aim of the conference is to reach international agreement to keep global warming below 2°C. This is a good opportunity to reflect on why climate change is looming as a moral issue and to ask what actions we, the Church of Ireland, have taken.


Throughout 2015, Christian leaders have spoken out about the moral challenge of climate change. Pope Francis, in his encyclical, said climate change “represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day”.


The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “We are now – like never before – in a position to choose charity over greed, and frugality over wastefulness in order to affirm our moral commitment to our neighbour and our respect toward the earth.”


Furthe…

Church of Ireland archbishops speak out about climate change.

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The Archbishop of Armagh, Richard Clarke, and Archbishop of Dublin have spoken out on climate change by releasing a joint letter with other faith leaders in Ireland which was published in the Irish Times and Belfast Telegraph on 25th September.

"The collective sacred texts of all faiths speak of caring for the Earth. We, as representatives of diverse faiths on the island of Ireland, call for a new dialogue at all levels of society on the threat of climate change to the Earth, our common home, and to our aspirations for a just society.


Climate change is one of the most serious challenges facing our human family. Current impacts are already too much for poor countries to bear. In rich and poor countries alike, women and men living in poverty are most vulnerable to the impacts of increasingly unpredictable weather and more intense storms, floods and drought.


The opportunity to limit further warming to relatively safer levels and avoid even more devastating impacts will soon disapp…

Climate Charter to be launched in Diocese of Tuam, Killala and Achonry

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Bishop Patrick Rooke spoke passionately about his concerns over climate change at the Tuam, Killala and Achonry Diocesan synod on 25 September 2015.  Bishop Patrick said,
During the [Church of England] debate at the July Synod in York, climate change was described as ‘the big issue’, and as a spiritual problem to which there is a moral imperative to act. ‘Synod was told; ‘there is no Planet B’. I intend therefore to set up a group to look at this whole area and to present us with a Diocesan Charter for honouring creation."  It is good to see a Church of Ireland Bishop speak out and take action about one of the most important issue of our day.

Church of Ireland invests in oil giant drilling in the Arctic.

The Church of Ireland invests in an oil giant, the Eni group, that has announced that it is to begin drilling for fossil fuels in the Arctic.

The Guardian reported on 30 September 2015 that,

"Italian oil giant Eni has vowed to press ahead with oil production in the Arctic by the end of the year, undeterred by Shell’s decision to abandon its quest for Arctic oil. As environmentalists celebrated Shell’s retreat from the Chukchi Sea this week, Eni is meanwhile making final preparations to a $5.5bn (£3.6bn) project in the Norwegian Arctic.
The Goliat project is set to become the world’s northernmost offshore oil field to come on stream, eventually pumping 100,000 barrels of oil per day from reserves believed to hold around 175m barrels of oil and 8bn cubic metres of gas."

Investments for Church of Ireland are managed by the Representative Church Body (RCB). There are two main investment funds, the General Funds/Reserves and the Specific Trusts.  The investments page of the Church…

Diocese of Connor passes motion on climate change

The Diocese of Connor also passed a motion at its synod calling on the Representative Church Body to divest from fossil fuels.

The following is an extract from an article on the Connor website about the synod.

"A Motion on Climate Change – Disinvestment by RCB prompted some debate. The motion, proposed eloquently by the Rev Canon John Budd urged the RCB to:
increase investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency companiesensure there are no investments in coal companies (except those investing in carbon capture) and tar sand companies within the next yearexamine the possibility of disinvestment from oil companies within three years from nowexamine the possibility of disinvestment from natural gas companies after five yearscall on parishes and individuals to encourage government and political parties to act responsibly on climate change.
Canon Budd said: “We will soon be taking part in Harvest Services, thanking God and making us aware of our debt to him, but also of our respon…

Motion passed at Down and Dromore Synod 2015

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Explanatory note

“Human-induced climate change, mainly a result of burning fossil fuels, is occurring fast and will confront humanity with its greatest ever challenge. The earth is on a pathway to global warming well beyond the 2°C internationally agreed as the maximum possible if we are to avoid cataclysmic climate change”. (The Bright Now Report)

Scientists estimate that to avoid a 2°C temperature rise the maximum amount of carbon that can be produced by burning coal, oil and gas is one fifth of current reserves. This means that 4/5ths of existing fossil fuels must stay in the ground if we are too avoid catastrophic climate change.

Care for creation is part of our calling as Christians, as 1 Cor 10:26 says, "the earth is the Lord's". Climate change will hit poorer nations the hardest. Proverbs 31:9 says, "Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."

Churches can speak up with a prophetic voice by removing investments from fossil fuels…

Letter to the Church of Ireland Gazette 10 July 2015

Church of Ireland Gazette, 10 July 2015.

Letter to the editor,

I thank God for Ron Elsdon. About 20 years ago he visited our midweek Bible study and spoke passionately about global warming; I have vivid memories of images of melting glaciers. So I was delighted to read his article, ‘An immense pile of filth’, Gazette 3 July 2015, in which he wrote again with passion about the need for every parish and parishioner to respond to the moral problem of climate change. In particular, he highlighted the Environmental Charter passed at General Synod in May.

On 25 June 2015 the Down and Dromore synod voted to pass unanimously a motion on climate change that endorsed the Environmental Charter. It is a call to action for Christians and churches within the Church of Ireland. I hope other diocesan synods may vote on similar motions soon. For convenience the text of the motion is online at

http://bit.ly/CoIDivest.

Another interesting article in the same edition of the Gazette is by Christian Aid’…

Reflections on General Synod

Church of Ireland Gazette - 29th May 2015.

I WAS very encouraged by my first Church of Ireland General Synod and will explain why, as I share some first impressions.

When I walked through the entrance to the Armagh City Hotel conference centre, the first thing that struck me was the variety of clerical dress and hairstyles. Had I arrived at a Father Ted convention by mistake?

I batted that image from my mind and took in the variety of exhibition displays and saw a few familiar clerical faces. The place was buzzing. I found a seat in the main hall and soaked up the atmosphere.

First up was the Presidential Address by the Most Revd Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. I had not seen the Archbishop in the flesh before and he is a real gentleman.

The address started well, emphasising the importance of Church communities having good inter-relationships – very timely.

Then he threw in some statistics, the most interesting being that only 15% of those who wrote ‘C…

Speech to Church of Ireland General Synod 2015

This speech was given at the Church of Ireland Synod debate on the Report of the Representative Body.

I would like to draw your attention to the revised policy statement on Socially Responsible Investment on page 89 which was approved by the RB in March 2015 and published in General Synod 2015 Book of Reports.  I welcome the focus on Environmental, Social and Governance issues.  But I believe it does not go far enough.

At the bottom of p89 the policy states, 
"The RCB actively seeks to avoid investment in business which would be inconsistence with the ethos and mission of a Christian organisation."The question is, is it ethical to invest in fossil fuels?  

In each of the last three years, of the ten largest equity holdings in the RB General investments fund, five of them where in fossil fuel companies. Should the Church of Ireland continue to invest in energy companies that contribute to the growing threat of climate change?  

This is not just a political issue, it is also a theo…