#EarthDay 2021 and church divestment

#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?

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 ! — 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 — 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.

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

  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

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

Speech on the Five Marks of Mission

Here is a short speech I gave at Church of Ireland General Synod 2019. I'll write up a longer blog post on my impressions of Synod and what happened at the Climate of Hope fringe event soon. -- I believe that the church needs to raise its voice in response to the climate crisis.  You have seen the protests in the news – in March this year 1.5 million children took to the streets in the School Strike movement crying out for change. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old leader of the climate movement, said last month in the House of Parliament, "We children are doing this to wake the adults up. We children are doing this for you to put your differences aside and start acting as you would in a crisis. We children are doing this because we want our hopes and dreams back." As a church, we need to Act Now and respond to this crisis. We need to have a clear message and mission for the age of climate breakdown. I am pleased to see the emphasis the Council of Mission h

A fossil free Church of Ireland

Speech to General Synod on 17 May 2019, I’d like to draw Synod’s attention to the investment performance in 2018 on pages 30 and 31. It was a difficult year but the RCB investment committee and staff must be thanked for their superb work on behalf of the church. The returns from invested funds help to support the mission and ministry of the church. This reminds me that last year synod passed a motion to fully divest from all fossil fuels by 2022. Actually, following that successful motion, a member of our Diocesan Council asked me how he could ethically invest his retirement lump sum. I told him that his investment manager could exclude unethical investments like fossil fuels. Six months later, he told me his investment manager had looked into it the options and was himself surprised to find out that green investment packages had performed better than traditional ones. He was going to recommend to other clients that they too should exclude fossil fuels. New evidence produced b

Greta Thunberg should win the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019

Today, hundreds of thousands of children are marching for a better future. They want immediate action on climate change and they understand how radical a change that needs to be.  The movement was started by a lone voice - Greta Thunberg - a sixteen-year-old from Sweden. She started the #Fridays4Future movement by leaving school each Friday to stand outside the parliament in Stockholm with a sign calling for climate action. I proposed that she should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Price in February and just this week it was announced she was one of the nominees. If public pressure rises then she will win this prize - let's make it happen. Dear Nobel Committee, I’d like to nominate Greta Thurnberg for the Nobel Peace Prize 2019. Her #schoolstrike4climate action will save millions of lives and reduce the suffering of millions more. @GretaThunberg @NobelPrize #Fridays4Future #climatestrikes #NobelPeacePrize — Stephen Trew (@stephentrew) Feb