Category Archives: CoP26

1.5 Degrees Celsius: A Reality Check

The UN published this chart on 4 November for delegates to Cop26.  It includes all the latest data from countries around the world on their plans to limit the emission of greenhouse gases in what are known as ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ or NDCs for short.  This goes to the heart of the Cop process and is the mechanism that lies behind the headlines.

The NDCs were introduced at Cop21 in Paris in 2015 requiring governments to set out every five years the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that they are prepared to commit to.  All signatories to the Paris agreement submitted their first NDCs five years ago and most but not all have now submitted new and revised NDCs summarised in this chart. There is some increase in ambition, but the chart shows just how far we are from the 1.5 degrees Celsius target. 

If we want to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, we should be following the pale blue track towards the bottom of the chart.  The reality is that present commitments are in the red band at the top of the chart resulting in warming of well over 2 degrees Celsius.   Current national commitments will stabilise emissions and maybe result in a small reduction but nothing like what is needed.

There is a second issue of whether the plans are credible and whether they can be implemented. The UK has an ambitious target of a 78% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on 1990 levels by 2035. However, the UK Climate Change Committee has pointed out that this requires radical action every year from now until 2035, for example by replacing all gas fired central heating in homes across the UK with new low carbon technology such as heat pumps. Unfortunately, there is not much sign of such radical action yet.

The announcements made this week on limiting methane emissions and an end to coal mining are more encouraging but are not yet global in reach. So, as ever progress at the Cop is slow and painstaking.

COP26: First Impressions

The road to Cop26 has been long and hard for some and not just metaphorically.

Pilgrims from Sweden and Germany started walking in August arriving in North Shields by ferry three weeks ago.

I met them and joined them for the last few rain soaked miles into Glasgow on Friday 29 October arriving for a memorable service of welcome and blessing in Glasgow Cathedral.

Walking with them for just a few days was a remarkable experience both to witness their commitment and to see how warmly they were greeted along the way.

In schools and churches and in towns and country children and adults responded with kindness and generosity and with a genuine sense of awe at their undertaking. It was the best kind of human endeavour.

Media coverage of their arrival in Glasgow was positive and the short final walk on Saturday from Glasgow Green to George Square well reported.

On the whole reporting of other walks, marches and protests has also been positive.

Greta Thunberg was seen with a group of admiring young people in a park in Govan, Greenpeace faced down a reluctant Clyde Port Authority by sailing up the Clyde uninvited and a picturesque small shoal of mermaids washed up outside the Scottish Events Centre, where the Cop is being held, to publicise Marine Rebellion.

Inside it’s a different story.

Visiting the ‘blue zone’ at the Cop yesterday where delegates and diplomats gather was like going into a huge corporate trade fair with governments from around the world vying with each other to present themselves and their carbon cutting credentials in the best possible light.

There is a lot of commercial sponsorship and a great deal of media and communications expertise on display. It’s all very shiny and bright but it does not feel good.

There is not the same sense of conviction or clarity as among the protesters or pilgrims outside.

I know there are great number of very good people doing their best on the government delegations (we have met some of them in recent months) but there is always a sense that most governments cannot commit to the changes that are needed and always have one foot on the brake, thinking of business interests, political popularity at home or national advantage.

The media reporting also carries a sense of scepticism: are governments and political leaders really committed to change, are their commitments credible and will they be put into effect?

It’s early days and the pattern of negotiations is not yet clear. But for now the protesters and the pilgrims have my vote.

EcoHighland 2021

EcoHighland 2021 is a programme for two full weeks of events, around worship, prayer and action organised by churches locally and supported by Eco Congregation Scotland with Inverness Presbytery Church Support. Running from the 31st of October to the 13th of November, these two weeks coincide with the timing of the vital COP 26 negotiations in Glasgow. EcoHighland 2021 gives local churches and surrounding communities -and those who join us online from elsewhere- an opportunity to share the importance of caring for our planet.

The calendar of events below gives an overview and flavour of the main events happening. It is worth keeping an eye on the Eco Congregation Scotland events page as further events are added. There are activities that will appeal to people of all ages.

These events are only a flavour of the range of things that the congregations are doing. Inverness St Columba have put together a booklet of pledges to help people care for the planet, as well as a collective active travel challenge to clock up the 180 miles to Glasgow over the duration of COP 26. Other congregations are taking greening their grounds and beyond seriously by planting trees, wildflowers and daffodils. Many of the congregations are planning what they will do to keep this going beyond the two weeks of EcoHighland 2021. For example, Inverness Old High St Stephens congregation are planning a series of conversations about climate change and the practical steps we can take to help care for the planet. Inverness Dalneigh and Bona are looking at how to help people make practical changes such as extending the range of things they each recycle. There are many more exciting plans beside these, so it will be worth keep an eye on church websites and social media in the coming months.

100 Days to COP26

UN climate talks start 31 October

Call for all churches to act

With only 100 days now counting down until the COP26 United Nations climate conference begins in Glasgow, Eco-Congregation Scotland is joining renewed calls for all churches to commit to action before talks begin.

Please read our latest briefing on what COP26 is and all the different ways you can get involved with your own church. We will be sharing much more in coming weeks.

Over 1,500 churches across the UK are already taking part in the Climate Sunday initiative, with hundreds more planning to do so, demonstrating growing climate action by local congregations.

A key milestone before COP26 is a major Nations’ Climate Sunday Service with Glasgow Churches Together from Glasgow Cathedral, streamed live online on Sunday 5 September 2021 at 4pm, to share church commitments across the nations of the UK and pray for bold action with courageous leadership at COP26 in the city this November.

Climate Sunday is an initiative of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), with backing from a range of denominations and Christian charities. We are encouraging churches to take action in the run-up to COP26:

Worship
Hold a climate-focused service, to explore the theological and scientific basis of creation care and action on climate, to pray, and to commit to action. Explore the Climate Sunday website and our own resources for inspiration to suit all church traditions and styles of worship. Please register your service so we can count you in!

Commit
Make a commitment as a local church community to taking long term action to reduce your own greenhouse gas emissions. Use Climate Stewards‘ new 360°carbon calculator for churches and register as an eco-congregation – or work towards an Eco-Congregation Scotland Award.

Speak up
Use your voice to tell the UK Government that you want a cleaner, greener, fairer future at the heart of plans to rebuild the economy – with finance to support poorer countries affected most by climate change. Read and sign ‘The Time Is Now’ declaration both as a church and as individuals.


Eco-Congregation Scotland is also proud to be a partner of the new Climate Scotland campaign in the run-up to COP26, with 30 other organisations including Christian Aid ScotlandSCIAFTearfund Scotland and Justice and Peace Scotland.

Our climate and natural world are in crisis. It’s threatening our communities, our food, resources, and our beautiful places.

Decisions by world leaders at COP26 could get us on track to avoid the worst effects of climate change. It’s a real chance to create a better future for our communities here in Scotland and around the world.

There is hope. But we also need our leaders in Scotland plus those attending COP26 to know just how much we care, with thousands of voices being heard. Please share why action on climate and nature is important to you. It takes just a few minutes to add your own voice at: climatescotland.org


With 100 days to go until COP26, the Scottish Government also announced today its indicative Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), outlining Scotland’s contribution to preventing warming of more than 1.5 degrees. We will continue to support and encourage efforts in all our communities towards making Scotland a Net Zero Nation – and link Together For Our Planet across the UK in this special year of climate action. 

#LetsDoNetZero


UPCOMING EVENTS
 
Our next confirmed events, activities and training are online and being updated regularly, including:

Breathe: Fresh Air for All
Let’s talk about the climate emergency
Monday 26 July 2021, 7.30pm

Embracing Greener Travel: Electric Vehicles
Workshop with Home Energy Scotland

Wednesday 28 July 2021, 2.00pm

Please register for the Zoom meeting links at:
https://www.ecocongregationscotland.org/upcomingevents/

Register for free and begin your church’s journey as an eco-congregation. 

Please consider church membership to become more active in the charity and support our Network activities – join online.

Please donate if you can, to help support our work and encourage growing interest across Scotland’s churches.

If you or others in your church would like to receive this newsletter regularly, please subscribe.

COP26 venue Scottish Events Campus header photograph courtesy of Glasgow Convention Bureau.

Our office is currently closed due to the coronavirus situation and staff are working from home. Please contact Eco-Congregation Scotland manager Stephen Curran at: 
0141 423 4671, 07554 905275, manager@ecocongregationscotland.org

Holy Week 2021

Good News to every Creature

Eco-Congregation Scotland shares reflections this Holy Week and looks forward to celebrating an Easter message that brings ‘Good News to every Creature’. We also encourage job applications and campaign activities next week as we look further ahead to the Scottish Parliament election in May and the COP26 United Nations climate summit in November. Thank you for your continuing involvement and support of our activities and events. Wishing you in advance a very Happy Easter this weekend.

Eco-Chaplain Rev David Coleman is very grateful to St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh for being able to record a major Palm Sunday reflection on Mark 11:1-11 and to Our Lady of Loretto and St Michael Catholic Church with final reflections in a special Musselburgh Covid Stations of the Cross.

As many churches opened their doors for the first time since Christmas with changing coronavirus guidance, our Eco-Chaplain has also been sharing reflections online for devotional use this Holy Week, complementing local worship and prayer across Scotland:

Maundy Thursday – “Let the sea come and wash your feet”, a Holy Thursday footwashing reflection first shared last year, with scripture matched alongside images of our coasts and waters.

Good Friday – reflection on “The Dream of the Rood”, a dream in which the “True Cross” speaks in an ancient “heroic” Passion poem of Creation.

Easter Sunday – reading and reflection on Mark 16:9-20 “Dangerous Words”, live from 7am on 4 April 2021 and accessible any time after on our Facebook page.

David outlines the special reflection for Easter Sunday: “Exceptionally, this works from the neglected ‘old ending’ of Mark’s Gospel, which contains the Inclusive Commission of the Risen Christ to bring ‘Good News to every Creature’, as well as some other untamed and challenging verses.”

“It’s presented as a complement, not a substitute for your own local church events, and will premiere live on our Facebook page at 7am on Easter Sunday.”

Easter 2021: being nothing, yet not inferior – Finally for Holy Week, David shares an Easter post on the Chaplain’s Blog proclaiming “Christ is risen…let’s work with Christ!” – and may be spotted ringing a bell at Gullane. Please contact our Eco-Chaplain to connect and work with your own church, online or in person.

We also encourage you to join in individual or household prayer with Christians across Scotland at 7pm on Easter Sunday evening:
Scottish Church Leaders Forum Statement and Prayer


Eco-Congregation Scotland is delighted to be working with Glasgow Churches Together and its COP26 Co-ordinating Group, a special ecumenical committee encouraging local churches, denominations and faith charities to co-operate in unity on activities and events relating to the city hosting the climate conference.

There is still time to apply for two exciting job opportunities to support the Glasgow Churches COP26 Co-ordinating Group, funded by Action of Churches Together in Scotland (ACTS), with applications sought by Easter Monday, 5 April 2021:

Glasgow Churches COP26 Ambassador
Encouraging Churches to prepare for, engage with and be changed by COP26 coming to Glasgow. Self-employed consultancy basis for at least 40 days, April to 30 November 2021.
Further information.

COP26 Administrator
Support before and during COP26 to member and partner churches, 0.4 full-time equivalent. Co-ordinating hospitality and welcome, including offers of accommodation to individuals and premises to groups visiting Glasgow.
Further information.


Share, Show, Shout for Climate Justice
Wednesday 7 April 2021
6pm – 7pm

Register at this link

We are sharing work from coalitions we are members of and key partner organisations towards the Scottish Parliament elections on 6 May, encouraging candidates to hear directly on the demand for Scotland to do more in championing climate justice. At this training event policy experts and experienced campaigners will share the most effective ways for making your voice heard. There are three ways you can make a difference today:

1. Share the message
Post this video on social media or share with your group chats.

2. Show you care
Strike a pose and share a campaign selfie on social media with your message of climate action, using the hashtag #ClimateJusticeScot.

3. Shout out loud
Reach out to your local candidates to ask for a 15 minute virtual cuppa over Zoom.

This Stop Climate Chaos Scotland campaign is supported by Scottish Communities Climate Action NetworkChristian AidSCIAFTearfundJustice and Peace ScotlandQuakersGlobal Justice NowWater AidOxfam ScotlandWWF ScotlandArkboundJubilee ScotlandUnison Scotland and Water Witness. You can read more in the campaign toolkit.


Monthly Prayer Gathering
Thursday 8 April 2021
4pm – 5pm

Register at this link

South Glasgow and North Glasgow Local Networks of eco-congregations invite you to join their open Monthly Prayer Gathering in the run up to COP26, taking place in their city this November.

Scottish Episcopal Church votes to go net zero by 2030

Urgent action to be taken in response to the global climate emergency

Christian environmental and development charities Eco-Congregation Scotland, Christian Aid and Operation Noah today joyfully welcome the decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church, at their General Synod, to set a 2030 net zero carbon emissions target. 

The motion was proposed by Rev’d Elaine Garman, Interim Convener of the Church in Society Committee for the Scottish Episcopal Church. Speaking ahead of the motion being carried, she said, ‘We are in a climate emergency… We all must act and act now. As a Church we must lead… Our motion today is designed to enable the Scottish Episcopal Church…in reducing our negative impact on our climate… We can be part of Scotland’s preparations for the COP26 climate summit next year.’ 

The motion, passed by General Synod, reads: ‘That this Synod, expressing the need for urgent action in relation to the global climate emergency, call on the Church in Society Committee, working in conjunction with other appropriate bodies, to bring forward a programme of actions to General Synod 2021 to resource the Scottish Episcopal Church in working towards achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030.’

The decision to set a 2030 net zero target is especially significant as Glasgow prepares to host the UN climate talks, COP26, in November 2021.

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The Provost of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh, The Very Rev’d John Conway, welcomed the motion: ‘This is an important first step for the Scottish Episcopal Church, showing our commitment to action in the face of the depth of the climate crisis. Responding to the climate emergency is the most urgent task facing us all, requiring all the spiritual and intellectual resources available. To speak with any authority about that spiritual task of living more simply, however, requires us to put our own house in order, and this motion sets us on that road. I look forward to the resources offered to help us all move to being carbon neutral in 10 years time.’

In June 2019, the Scottish Episcopal Church General Synod voted to change its ethical investment policy following a motion proposed by the Rev’d Diana Hall, Rector of St Anne’s, Dunbar. The motion stated that ‘the ethical investment policy be updated to reflect the moral imperative to divest fully from fossil fuels’.

Since then, an Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) has been established. which gave its first report to General Synod today. The report stated that the Church has sold its direct investments in fossil fuel companies, but continues to invest in fossil fuels indirectly through its pooled funds.

At General Synod, there were calls for the Scottish Episcopal Church to publicly announce its commitment to divest from fossil fuels and to complete the divestment process as soon as possible. In his speech to the General Synod, The Very Re’vd John Conway welcomed the work done to date by the EIAG and asked the Church’s College of Bishops to sign the Scottish Churches COP26 Pledge: Divestment and the Just and Green Recovery, which was recently launched by Eco-Congregation Scotland and other partners.

We are really pleased to see that our supporting Churches are backing the priority to aim for net zero by 2030, which will bring changes to local congregations and their members.

Mary Sweetland, Eco-Congregation Scotland chairperson

The decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church to reach net zero emissions in the next decade follows the Church of England decision to set a 2030 net zero carbon target in February 2020. Both are in the worldwide Anglican Communion, a family of churches in more than 165 countries.

The Church of Scotland set a 2030 net zero target at the General Assembly in October 2020 when its Faith Impact Forum successfully proposed ‘for the Church to transition both locally and nationally to net zero carbon emissions by 2030’. Many local authorities have also made this pledge, including the City Councils of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Mary Sweetland, chairperson of Eco-Congregation Scotland, said: ‘We are really pleased to see that our supporting Churches are backing the priority to aim for net zero by 2030, which will bring changes to local congregations and their members.’

Sally Foster-Fulton, Head of Christian Aid Scotland, said: ‘Only this week the Secretary General of the United Nations told the world we have a climate emergency which is impacting most heavily on the world’s most vulnerable people. We know all too well here at Christian Aid that those who have done the least to cause the problem suffer the most. And so it’s really encouraging that today the Scottish Episcopal Church has decided to commit to net zero emissions by 2030. As 2020 draws to a close, we can look ahead to COP26 in Glasgow alongside our Church partners in Scotland, as they continue to pursue decisions that will lead to climate justice for those living on the sharp end of the climate emergency.’

Christian Aid holds a vision of a better world, free from poverty and climate change. For over ten years, Christian Aid Scotland has been campaigning for the UK and Scottish Governments to take climate change seriously for the benefit of those who are impacted first and worst by its effects.  Operation Noah is a Christian charity working with the Church across all Christian denominations to inspire action on climate change.

James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Manager at Operation Noah said: ‘It is wonderful news that the Scottish Episcopal Church has set a target of reaching net zero emissions by 2030. In order to demonstrate leadership on the climate crisis ahead of the UN climate talks in Glasgow next year, it is vital that the Scottish Episcopal Church supports a just and green recovery from Covid-19 by completing divestment from fossil fuel companies and investing in the clean technologies of the future.’

The motion passed by the Scottish Episcopal Church General Synod reads as follows: ‘That this Synod, expressing the need for urgent action in relation to the global climate emergency, call on the Church in Society Committee, working in conjunction with other appropriate bodies, to bring forward a programme of actions to General Synod 2021 to resource the Scottish Episcopal Church in working towards achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030.’

St Andrew’s Day thanks for your commitment and support

Join our movement today

Eco-Congregation Scotland is always keen to hear from local churches and today our team shares great examples of activities and events. Congregations across our movement continue their work through the pandemic, respecting restrictions while responding to local need and addressing environmental concerns.

We are also pleased to share key events this week organised by partners and coalitions. On St Andrew’s Day, as we celebrate Scotland’s patron who spread the Good News far and wide, we thank all who have attended and participated in a wide variety of recent activities and online meetings, here and globally. This has been crucial as we welcome the world to the COP26 Glasgow climate talks next November. Eco-Congregation Scotland and churches throughout the country have been represented well by so many of our volunteers. We value your involvement, interest and insight.

We also love to share stories from local eco-congregations, to celebrate your wide-ranging work and encourage us all in caring for God’s creation. We were delighted to hear that our 500th eco-congregation Faifley Parish Church is holding a regular Recycle Room every Friday with free clothes bundles, DVDs, books, baby equipment, cushions and bedding thanks to dedicated volunteers and large numbers of donations. Ellis’ facemasks and Elsie’s chutney, pictured below, have been popular and successful fundraisers too!

We look forward to celebrating registration 500 with Faifley Parish when COVID-19 local protection levels allow. A special welcome and thank you to all subsequent new registrations in recent months, taking us to 508 eco-congregations:

If your church is concerned about the environment and wants to get involved, please join our movement today. It’s free to register.

We also encourage membership for your church, to become more active in the charity and support our Local Networks. Membership is again free for smaller churches and up to £100 per year for congregations with the highest incomes, that’s only £8 per month or less than £2 per week.

All membership fees go directly to support Local Network activities through our Programme Coordinator work. It’s easy to join online or print a form and post to us. Please also consider making a one-off or regular donation to support our work as an individual too.

Inspired by our A Sanctuary for Swifts event two weeks ago – which you can watch again online – Central Borders Local Network coordinator Ian Skinner informs us Holy Trinity Melrose is installing a nesting box for swifts on the Trinity Centre. Specially designed for swifts, the box will be placed near the top of the north facing gable with a clear outlook towards Gattonside Hill on the far side of the Tweed. Another two boxes designed for house martins are being placed on the Centre’s east side. Ian adds: “We are looking forward to welcoming new visitors in the spring of 2021!”

A Just Transition for Scotland’s Housing is also available to watch online, our major open event with the Just Transition Commission and the Methodist Church in Scotland hosted by Stirling Methodist Church. Commissioners positively engaged with the well-attended event and points made throughout were recognised in their ongoing work, emphasising the importance of housing for Scotland to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2045.

Well done and thank you all Kinross Parish Church Eco-Congregation group volunteers who picked up a “terrifying” amount of litter pictured above last Saturday in the space of about an hour. We also congratulate St Mary’s Eco-Congregation TOA (Take One Action) Local group in Dalkeith, holding another successful film evening to watch and discuss “Catching the Sun“, exploring workers and business leaders racing to lead the clean energy future.

These are just some of the diverse environmental activities and interesting events across individual congregations and our Local Networks. Thank you again for your continuing support and that of every church volunteer and all our supporters. It is always appreciated, even more so this challening year. Happy St Andrew’s Day!


Isaiah 64: Ripping open the sky – We fade like leaves

An appropriately scary start to the Christian season most concerned with what is to come. Many thanks Scottish writer, academic and activist Alastair McIntosh on the first Sunday of Advent followed by Rev Julia Meason today, minister of Kirkwall East linked with Shapinsay, and to all opening our alternative Advent Calendar.

The Judge to Cheer the Forest is our ecumenical and varied video Advent Calendar online, offering a 1-2 minute reading and reflection until Christmas Eve. Please view and share the items daily at Eco-Chaplain online and Eco-Congregation Scotland, on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube every day of Advent.


Financing Climate Justice
Monday 30th November 2020, 12.00noon

https://climatefringe.org/sccs-live-events/
Rich nations like ours have a duty to deliver a fair share of support for poorer countries on the front line of the climate crisis. Tune in to this Climate Fringe event to find out more.

Let’s talk about the climate emergency – Our Global Connections
Monday 30th November 2020, 7.30pm

https://www.ecocongregationscotland.org/event/ourglobalconnections/
How we live impacts on climate change and the lives of others. Join us to talk, pray and reflect on Our Global Connections, the November theme in our “Let’s talk about the climate emergency” resources.

Restraining Climate Change: What is the Role of Faith Communities?
Tuesday 1st December 2020, 7.30pm
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_x18cxZxSS_yyGZ6_bkEVWQ
Climate emergency, coronavirus and Brexit. How can we as faith communities work with others to build a just and green future? These are moments of great opportunity but also significant challenge. Hosted by St Columba’s-by-the-Castle Episcopal Church in Edinburgh, join the discussion with:

The first Change in a Time of Chaos science and faith webinar, a series of talks hosted by St Columba’s towards COP26 next November.

Glasgow City Region Climate Adaptation Strategy
Wednesday 2nd December 2020, 2.00pm  East and West Dunbartonshire
Thursday 3rd December 2020, 7.00pm  Young persons event

Climate Ready Clyde is consulting until Christmas Eve on the draft Glasgow City Region Adaptation Strategy, seeking to ensure the region’s society, environment and economy are prepared and can flourish in the future climate.