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Church of Ireland seminar on Climate Change and the Environment

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Yesterday was the seminar on 'Helping parishes respond to climate change' organised by the Church of Ireland. It was very good to see this happen in Belfast and the was a lot of interest from attendees on how churches can do more on climate.

I was one of the speakers and it was great to have a full room in the Council Chamber in Church House in Belfast, beside the beautiful cathedral.

I have reproduced the slides and the text of the talk below.


A Biblical Perspective on the Environment [Slide 1] I have been asked to set the scene and provide a Biblical Perspective on the environment. But to be honest, I do not know why I was asked, for I am not a theologian nor I am not a clergy person.

But I think the reason might be this - several years I was impacted by what the Bible has to say on about creation, how we treat it, and how the church has responded to the crisis unfolding before us.

And we are facing a crisis. Be it climate change, pollution, or loss of biodiversity. As the …

Archbishop Richard Clarke, 'We are guardians of the earth'

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During synod season I always read on the speeches of the various bishops in the diocesan synod presidential addresses. Today I was pleased to read that the Bishop of Armagh, The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, spoke about the health of the planet. It was a good speech that focused on various aspects of health – mental health, political health and the health of the environment.

Here are some of the best quotes,
"It will be our children and grandchildren who will pay a terrible price if we do not act as responsible guardians of the health of the earth on which we have been placed." This is one of the best quotes I have ever heard our archbishop on the state of the creation.

He goes on,
"We are nearing the point where the wasteful pollution and unnecessary heating of this planet is about to find a tipping point from which there can be no return. We have been placed on this earth by God to protect its health and wholeness. We are the guardians of its health, not the despoiler…

Helping parishes respond to climate change and the environment

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Helping parishes respond to climate change and the environment Are you interested in how your parish can help the environment? The Church of Ireland’s Church and Society Commission is holding a climate change and environment seminar at Church of Ireland House, Donegall Street, Belfast.  Stephen Trew, one of the speakers at the event said: “The Church has a key role in tackling climate change. We can speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves and develop sustainable lifestyles and mission. This seminar will explain how your church can do more.” When: Wednesday 14 November at 10.00 am, concluding with a light lunch at 1.00 pm  Speakers Stephen Trew (environmental campaigner) – A Biblical Perspective on the EnvironmentDavid Thomas (Christian Aid Belfast) – Impact of Climate Change on the Developing WorldDavid Ritchie (Chief Officer, Representative Church Body) – Practical Action in Parish LifeAttendance is free but booking is essential.  Please email seminar@ireland.anglican.org

Grantham Institute - Superb research on energy and climate

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Here is another very useful resource for anyone interested in energy and climate change.

The London School of Economic is regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in the world and is the best for economics. The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment is highly regarded for its work on the economic impact of global warming.

At a lecture in July 2018 Jeremy Grantham, the co-founder of the institute, gave a lecture on the Mythical peril of divestment from fossil fuels. He carried out a study to gauge the impact of divestment from the fossil fuel sector and found there was no negative impact at all. Furthermore, with significant pressure to reduce emissions and usage of fossil fuels he suggests now is the time to get out of coal, oil, and gas.


He concludes,
Investors with long-term horizons should avoid oil and chemical stocks on investment grounds.  It is time to divest from fossil fuels.

Ieefa.org - Excellent divestment resource

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I'm going to recommend some divestment resources. The first is Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis - ieefa.org

I hope readers of this blog find some inspiration and will pursue divestment within their own church, university pension fund or local council. Over the years I have read a lot on divestment and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis ieefa.org is one of the best sources of information and Tom Sanzillo, their Director of Finance, is very quotable.

Recently the ieefa.org released a report —“The Financial Case for Fossil Fuel Divestment”— that gives an up-to-date and robust reasoning for divestment. The article IEEFA update: Divestment 101 provides a useful summary of the report and this graph which shows the poor performance of fossil fuels over the last 5 years.


Lead bishop for the environment

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THE WORLD is on fire. Wildfires have raged from Athens to the Arctic. Heatwaves have broken records in Africa, Japan, North America and Europe. Sadly, the wildfires and heat have led to lives lost and property destroyed.
In Ireland, we suffered a very wet winter, and the wettest decade in 300 years. This has been followed by the worst drought in 40 years. Armagh broke its 175-year-old temperature record on 27th June with the heat reaching 30.4 celsius.

Climate change is hitting hard and farmers and vulnerable people are struggling. The Church of Ireland offered prayers for the farming community, but is that it?

Ireland has one of the worst environmental records in Europe (Irish Times 1st August), so where is the call from the House of Bishops for governments, both north and south, to accelerate the response to climate change, reduce pollution and prevent environmental degradation?

As Bishop N.T. Wright said, “God is the Creator God, he doesn’t want to say, ‘Okay, creation was very go…

Irish Bishops announce the Catholic Church is to divest from fossil fuels

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The Catholic Bishops' Conference has announced that the Catholic Church is to divest from fossil fuels. This is the second major church in Ireland to announce full divestment following the decision by the Church of Ireland to divest at its General Synod in 2018.

The decisions by the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland put further pressure on the other mainline churches in Ireland to also divest from polluting fossil fuels.
The Bishops' Conference spokesperson said, “Today, on the eve of Pope Francis’ historic visit to Ireland, I wish to announce the decision of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference to divest from fossil fuels. The Bishops’ Conference has signed the global Catholic fossil free pledge and today begins the process of divesting its resources from all fossil fuels. In doing so, we are responding directly to Pope Francis’ call in his 2015 encyclical letter Laudato Sí (on care for our common home) by moving away from fossil fuels “without delay” (paragrap…

UK Churches divest from fossil fuel companies - Financial Times

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An excellent article on church divestment in the Financial Times today. The Church of Ireland's decision to divest at this year's general synod gets a mention.

"We have to do something about it when we have the evidence [that global warming is happening]. And our investment portfolios have to reflect that,"

New Wine Ireland Seminar Presentation - It's time to Care for God's Creation

New Wine Ireland is a Christian conference that takes place in Sligo each year. It aims to help local churches change nations.

I spoke at a seminar this year along with David Ritchie, the Chief Executive of the Church of Ireland's Representative Church Body. The seminar was on how local churches can help care for God's creation. The audio of the seminar is available from New Wine Ireland but I have put the text of my talk and a video of the slides below. The Church of Ireland also released a press article giving a summary of the seminar.


It's time to Care for Creation
Introduction Today David and I are going to give you two short and complementary perspectives on God’s creation and the actions we can take in response to environmental issues. Then we’ll take questions and hear what you have to say.

I’m going to cover three points:
A call to careA call to act, and Time to Take action So first,

[Slide 1] A call to care Conferences like New Wine are great at stirring us up an…

Church of England to divest from fossil fuel companies not in line with Paris Agreement

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The Church of England got its act together at General Synod and voted to divest from oil and gas companies that do not align to the Paris Agreement goals. This is a significant step forward and a great success for the Operation Noah Bright Now campaign.

Some great coverage from the press, including this article from Bloomberg,

And an excellent comment piece in the Telegraph from Rowan Williams.

The Church of England urged to vote for divestment.

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On Sunday 8 July 2018 the Church of England General Synod will vote on whether to divest from oil and gas companies not unequivocally aligned to the Paris Agreement goals of keeping global warming below 2C. This would be a historic vote and would echo the Church of Ireland commitment at its 2018 General Synod to divest from all fossil fuel producers by 2022.

The Church of England is a powerful voice in institutional investments. It has led strongly in collaborative engagement in recent years. A successful amendment vote on Sunday at General Synod would send one of the strongest signals to fossil fuel companies that the time for serious action has arrived.

Oil majors have been tripping over themselves with green announcements recently. Shell, ENI and Equinor have promised to reduce production emissions and to transform themselves into ‘energy companies’ rather than oil and gas companies. These announcements are welcome, but the Paris Agreement goals require a rapid reduction fossil fu…

BrightNow blog - The Church of Ireland votes to divest from fossil fuels

This blog post was written for www.brightnow.co.uk

Blog 21 MAY 2018 The Church of Ireland votes to divest from fossil fuels The Church of Ireland’s General Synod voted last week in favour of full divestment from fossil fuels. Campaigner Stephen Trew explains how it happened. At the Church of Ireland General Synod 2018, I proposed a motion to exclude investments in all companies where more than 10% of turnover is from the production of fossil fuels. It was a long shot, for I am just a regular parishioner, not a member of the Standing Committee or the Representative Church Body (RCB). If it was successful, the RCB would have to divest millions of euro from fossil fuel producing companies over the next four years. The motion passed. The successful vote was by an overwhelming majority: about 80% supported it. Synod members were presented with the strong ethical case of withdrawing investments from an industry that causes human suffering and that poses an increasing risk to pension and inv…

The Christian Times - Church of Ireland votes to divest from fossil fuel companies by 2022

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This article was published by the Christian Times 14 May 2018
Church of Ireland votes to divest from fossil fuel companies by 2022Jardine Malado14 MAY, 2018

ClimateAction - Church of Ireland approves motion to divest from fossil fuels

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This article was published by the Climate Action Programme on 14 May 2018 Church of Ireland approves motion to divest from fossil fuelsThe Anglican Church in Ireland has voted to put an end to its major investments in fossil fuel companies. The decision came at the church’s annual General Synod meeting last week, after a motion was put forward by a private member. The move means the Church of Ireland is now committed to removing investments from all companies which derive more than 10 percent of their income from fossil fuels. The motion has a target date of 2022, slightly amended from 2020 by other members. At the same time, the church intends to continue supporting renewable energy investments and new environmental projects. Its exposure to fossil fuel companies has already declined from 11 percent to 2.5 percent in the past seven years. Stephen Trew, who put forward the proposal, highlighted the moral urgency to address the increasing impacts of climate change in Ireland, and arou…