Category : Energy, Natural Resources

C of E Parishes prepare for mass ‘citizen science’ biodiversity events after huge success of last year’s Churches Count on Nature

The ‘citizen science’ event – set to run between 4-12th June – will welcome people to churchyards and encourage them to record what animals and plants they see. That data will then be collated on the biological records hub, the National Biodiversity Network.

Last year more than 540 activities and events were organised by churches across the country. People submitted 17,232 recorded pieces of data on wildlife they saw, with more than 1,500 species recorded.

This year’s event will take place during the same week as Love Your Burial Ground Week (4-12th June).

Graham Usher, the Bishop of Norwich and lead Church of England bishop for the environment, encouraged churches to start preparing.

He said: “I’m encouraging every parish to get involved with this year’s Churches Count on Nature.

“Churchyards and gardens are an incredible home of biodiversity, making up thousands of acres of green oases in every community of the country. Last year, hundreds of parishes got their local community searching for insects and plants in their open spaces.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Economist) How to help Ukraine as Vladimir Putin bombards its cities

NATO is already supplying Ukraine with lethal weapons and imposing harsh sanctions on Russia. It can and should do more. One idea is for Poland to give Ukraine some of its old Soviet-made fighter aircraft. It could also bolster Ukrainian air-defences with longer-range systems than the portable Stinger missiles they have received so far. Both would help more than asking NATO pilots to do the job for them.

Another good idea would be to degrade Russia’s economy further by imposing embargoes on buying Russian oil and gas. The current sanctions avoid energy, but Russia desperately needs hard currency from oil and gas exports to pay for its imports, because existing sanctions have frozen its reserves.

Both arms supplies and an embargo also risk escalation. And sanctions on Russian energy would come at a high price to the world economy. But they entail less risk and a lower price than a no-fly zone would. What is more, they might actually work.

Read it all (registration or subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

A C of E Parish’s other flock helps it win environment award

For the past 30 years St Mary’s in Ticehurst, East Sussex, has invited the small flock – made up of six ewes and their lambs – into the churchyard for part of the year to increase biodiversity.

Penny Evans, a licensed lay reader at the parish, explained: “We now have Wiltshire Horns in the churchyard, which works very well with our churchyard conservation project.

“Wiltshire Horns do not need shearing, and so there is plenty of wool available for the birds’ nests.

“Birds even fill their boxes with cosy sheep wool. They also do an excellent job of looking after the grass in the churchyard.”

In fact, the sheep helped the church gain a Gold Eco Award from the environment charity A Rocha UK. It is only the 24th church to achieve the award.

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Posted in Animals, Church of England (CoE), Energy, Natural Resources, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(LA Times front page) Western megadrought is worst in 1,200 years, intensified by climate change, study finds

The extreme dryness that has ravaged the American West for more than two decades now ranks as the driest 22-year period in at least 1,200 years, and scientists have found that this megadrought is being intensified by humanity’s heating of the planet.

In their research, the scientists examined major droughts in southwestern North America back to the year 800 and determined that the region’s desiccation so far this century has surpassed the severity of a megadrought in the late 1500s, making it the driest 22-year stretch on record. The authors of the study also concluded that dry conditions will likely continue through this year and, judging from the past, may persist for years.

The researchers found the current drought wouldn’t be nearly as severe without global warming. They estimated that 42% of the drought’s severity is attributable to higher temperatures caused by greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere.

“The results are really concerning, because it’s showing that the drought conditions we are facing now are substantially worse because of climate change,” said Park Williams, a climate scientist at UCLA and the study’s lead author. “But that also there is quite a bit of room for drought conditions to get worse.”

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources

(WSJ) Why High Gasoline Prices Could Stay High for a While

Despite rising consumption and dwindling inventories, producers have been slow to restore output to pre-pandemic levels. Spending on exploration and production has remained near its lowest level since the start of the shale drilling boom. The number of rigs drilling in North America also reflects the pullback.

Fuel consumption is likely to rise into the summer driving season, and as air traffic picks up. Demand is also rising internationally as more economies reopen after Covid-19 restrictions. The International Energy Agency has said it expects global demand for oil in 2022 to exceed pre-Covid-19 levels.

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Posted in Economy, Energy, Natural Resources

(BBC) Truro Cathedral to switch off floodlights to reduce its carbon footprint

Truro Cathedral’s floodlights will be switched off to help the environment, it has been announced.

Canon Elly Sheard said in a blog the decision was “a worthwhile start on the cathedral’s journey towards reducing its carbon footprint to zero”.

She added the move from the end of January was not based on costs, but welcomed the financial saving.

Cannon Sheard said they were looking to “phase out energy use in whatever ways we can” at the cathedral.

“Although the system has not worked fully for some time, the decision to cease floodlighting the cathedral has been taken more on environmental grounds than on the grounds of the costs of either repairs or continued use,” she said.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

The Church of England restricts investment in climate laggards

The Church of England’s National Investing Bodies (NIBs) are delivering on their 2018 commitment to General Synod to engage with and disinvest from high carbon emitting companies that are not making progress to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement by 2023.

Twenty companies have made climate-related changes to stay off the Church’s restricted list since 2020.
Following extensive engagement efforts by the NIBs, nine companies made changes to meet the 2021 hurdles. As a result they stayed off the restricted list for a further year, while 28 companies that did not meet the latest climate hurdles were restricted.

These actions are part of the NIBs’ commitment to transitioning their portfolios away from companies that are unwilling to act and align their businesses with the Goals of the Paris Agreement. The climate hurdles were set by the NIBs using Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) data. Additional exacting hurdles will come into force in 2022 and 2023.

The NIBs are founding members of TPI and are investor engagement leads in the Climate Action 100+ (CA100+) global engagement initiative. As long-term investors, the NIBs will continue to engage with companies to meet their climate objectives and build alliances with like-minded investors to engage with company boards and executives.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market

(Church Times) ‘Eco dioceses’ all round in race to reach 2030 goal

All 42 dioceses in the Church of England have signed up to become “eco dioceses” as part of their commitment to reaching carbon net zero by 2030.

Under the Eco Dioceses scheme, developed by the charity A Rocha UK, churches and dioceses are awarded bronze, silver, or gold status, depending on actions taken to improve their environmental footprint.

The development was welcomed by the Bishop of Norwich and lead bishop on the environment, the Rt Revd Graham Usher. He said: “Having every diocese sign up is a statement of intent from all of us as we take seriously the need to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss today.

“A Rocha UK’s Eco Church and Diocese scheme is a great tool, which enables local churches at every level of their climate justice journey to engage with environmental issues. We know that climate change and biodiversity loss impact us all — especially the world’s poorest countries….

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Guardian) Chemical pollution has passed safe limit for humanity, say scientists

The cocktail of chemical pollution that pervades the planet now threatens the stability of global ecosystems upon which humanity depends, scientists have said.

Plastics are of particularly high concern, they said, along with 350,000 synthetic chemicals including pesticides, industrial compounds and antibiotics. Plastic pollution is now found from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans, and some toxic chemicals, such as PCBs, are long-lasting and widespread.

The study concludes that chemical pollution has crossed a “planetary boundary”, the point at which human-made changes to the Earth push it outside the stable environment of the last 10,000 years.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Science & Technology

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year Message 2022

When it comes to climate change, it is tempting to despair, but there are real reasons to hope.

Last year, faith leaders representing three-quarters of the world’s population stood together at the Vatican and called for definitive action on climate change.

People of every background are campaigning and working for justice.

Important steps were taken at the COP26 summit. World leaders recognise the problem. Now they must agree and implement a fair solution for everyone.

When we plant a seed, we don’t see the fruit immediately. But under the surface, God is working with what we have planted.

In the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I see that God turns all endings into new beginnings, and death into life. God invites us to be part of this story – to be people who bring hope, healing and renewal to our world.

This year, let’s keep planting those seeds – let’s keep moving forward in hope.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization, Science & Technology

(Science) The Arctic is warming four times faster than the rest of the world

It’s almost a mantra in climate science: The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. But that figure, found in scientific studies, advocacy reports, the popular press, and even the 2021 U.N. climate assessment, is incorrect, obscuring the true toll of global warming on the north, a team of climate scientists reports this week. In fact, the researchers say, the Arctic is warming four times faster than the global average.

“Everybody knows [the Arctic] is a canary when it comes to climate change,” says Peter Jacobs, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who presented the work on 13 December at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union. “Yet we’re misreporting it by a factor of two. Which is just bananas.”

Researchers have long known the world warms faster in the far north, because of a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification. The drivers of amplification include increased solar heating, as dark ocean water replaces reflective sea ice, along with occasional intrusions of tropical heat, carried to the Arctic by “atmospheric rivers,” narrow parades of dense clouds that drag water vapor northward.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Science & Technology

(Telegraph) ‘They’re killing us slowly’: sandstorms and drought stalk Madagascar

The mother of four shakes the grubby plastic jerry can and sighs. “It’s not really enough,” she says, gesturing first to the almost empty five litre container, then the skinny children peering through the doorway. “But it has to be enough for now.”

Not so long ago, water was plentiful in this hot and arid part of southern Madagascar, an island some 250 miles off the coast of Africa. Then the drought descended.

In the last two to three years the price of water has jumped 300 per cent, in a region where 91 per cent of people earn less than $1.90 a day. Incomes here are inconsistent at best, but a family selling two to three bags of charcoal a month could expect to earn between 20,000 and 30,000 Malagasy ariary – $5 to $7.50.

Horariby and her children have a choice: they either trudge 12 kilometres on foot to collect water from the nearest large town, or buy it at twice the price from a cattle drawn cart that comes to her village, piled high with yellow jerry cans.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Madagascar

(NYT front page) A Slow-Motion Climate Disaster in Brazil: The Spread of Barren Land

CARNAÚBA DOS DANTAS, Brazil — The land has sustained the Dantas family for more than 150 years, bearing fields of cotton, beanstalks up to a grown man’s hip and, when it rained enough, a river that led to a waterfall.

But on a recent day, with temperatures approaching 100 degrees, the river had run dry, the crops would not grow and the family’s 30 remaining cattle were quickly consuming the last pool of water.

“Fifty years from now, there won’t be a soul living here,” said Inácio Batista Dantas, 80, balanced in a frayed hammock. “I tell my grandchildren that things are going to get very difficult.”

His granddaughter, Hellena, 16, listened in — and pushed back. She grew up here. “I plan to work this land,” she said.

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Posted in Anthropology, Brazil, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(C of E) Some of the nation’s largest landowners make unprecedented pact to jointly tackle the climate and nature crises

  • Some of England’s biggest landowners, who collectively own and manage around 30 percent of England’s land, sign pact to tackle climate change
  • Signatories include farmers, charities and private landowners, vow to work together alongside nature to use land effectively
  • Commitment made to coincide with outcomes of COP26 to show what can be done at home to tackle climate change
  • Joint principles include backing nature to tackle the climate crisis, reducing carbon and adapt to changing circumstances

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Religion & Culture

(C of E) Transition Pathway Initiative energy report finds only 1 in 10 companies are ambitious enough to keep global warming to 1.5°C

The first annual analysis of major energy company transition plans to be released since COP26 has found that only 1 in 10 are ambitious enough to keep global warming to 1.5°C.

This energy sector report is the first to feature TPI’s 1.5°C benchmark which assesses corporate targets against the IEA’s pathway to keep to 1.5°C of warming.

TPI assessed 140 of the largest energy companies (76 electric utilities, 58 oil & gas, 6 diversified miners involved in coal mining) on ‘Carbon Performance’ finding that 10% were aligned with a pathway to keeping global warming to 1.5°C, and a further 24% were aligned with a ‘Below 2°C’ pathway.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(Church Times) Faith groups were sidelined at COP26, says Bishop of Norwich

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, has criticised the Government for its lack of engagement with faith groups at the COP26 climate summit and urged it to make climate change a priority over the coming year.

Bishop Usher, who is the lead bishop on the environment, was at the UN talks in Glasgow which ended on Saturday, when countries had agreed to phase down coal use, end fossil-fuel subsidies, and come back next year to strengthen their commitments. But the promised financial support for poor and vulnerable nations remained lacking.

Bishop Usher said on Tuesday evening: “There was a powerful sense of solidarity across the faith groups and denominations at COP26. All faith traditions value the sanctity of creation, and before the summit many of us met at the Vatican to present our call to COP26 President Alok Sharma, where there was probably 85 per cent of the world’s population represented.

“In Glasgow, it was disappointing to see no space for faith groups at the summit. The Anglican Communion delegation struggled to find spaces to meet. It was a great shame the British Government didn’t put more emphasis on the role of faith communities.”

Bishop Usher applauded the efforts of Mr Sharma, however. He said: “I want to praise the commitment of Alok Sharma and his team, who have worked incredibly hard. The UK has the presidency of the COP for the next 12 months, and I would like to see them making use of this in the lead up to COP27 in Egypt.”

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Posted in --Scotland, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(ABC Nightline) How an underwater solution in the Faroe Islands could combat climate change

‘ABC News’ Maggie Rulli travels to the Faroe Islands, where scientists believe that seaweed farming could be a solution to the climate crisis.’

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Posted in Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Norway, Science & Technology, Stewardship

‘We must now keep up the moral pressure so that pledges are urgently turned into measurable action’: Bishops respond to COP26

Graham Usher, the Bishop of Norwich and the Church of England’s lead bishop for the environment, and Olivia Graham, the Bishop of Reading, have spoken at the conclusion of COP.

In a statement they said: “At COP we called for keeping global warming to below 1.5 degrees, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and securing finance for the world’s most vulnerable people who are already effected by climate breakdown.

“Progress was made in all these areas, plus cutting methane emissions and halting deforestation. We were particularly inspired to hear powerful testimonies from young people and representatives of indigenous peoples.

“We pay tribute to the work of Alok Sharma MP, the COP26 President, and his team.

“Negotiations always have some compromises and disappointments. These impact the world’s economically poorest the most. We must now keep up the moral pressure so that pledges are urgently turned into measurable action….

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Science & Technology, Stewardship

A BBC Interview with Imogen Nay, Canon for Evangelism and Discipleship at Chelmsford Catherdral, on how the local church can make a big difference in combatting Climate Chnage

Read it all.(The interview starts from around 1:28:45 and last about 7 minutes.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(FT) Stay or sell? The $110tn investment industry gets tougher on climate

The Church of England too is ditching stocks over climate concerns, even if Joffe says she believes that “having a seat at the table” is generally more effective. Last year, the church’s two investment bodies restricted investments in companies including Berkshire Hathaway and Korea Electric Power Corp over climate change concerns.

Joffe says a tougher approach, involving activism and divestment, “will have to become more mainstream”, especially if asset managers and asset owners are to meet their net zero commitments.

For companies, this means a tougher time from shareholders, says Tom Matthews, a partner who specialises in corporate activism at White and Case. He adds the “narrative around climate change has shifted significantly versus where it was in 2015”, when the Paris agreement was signed. “We’re seeing companies getting targeted because they haven’t woken up quickly enough.”

As for Aviva Investors, Baig says he believes the UK asset manager will end up selling out of at least some of the companies it is targeting because they are not making progress quick enough. “We have to be bold enough to walk way,” he says.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Stock Market

(Guardian) Cop26: world on track for disastrous heating of more than 2.4C, says key report

The world is on track for disastrous levels of global heating far in excess of the limits in the Paris climate agreement, despite a flurry of carbon-cutting pledges from governments at the UN Cop26 summit.

Temperature rises will top 2.4C by the end of this century, based on the short-term goals countries have set out, according to research published in Glasgow on Tuesday.

That would far exceed the 2C upper limit the Paris accord said the world needed to stay “well below”, and the much safer 1.5C limit aimed for at the Cop26 talks.

At that level, widespread extreme weather – sea-level rises, drought, floods, heatwaves and fiercer storms – would cause devastation across the globe.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(NYT front page) Climate Talks Bring Promises Slim on Detail

The international climate summit here has been billed by its chief organizer as the “last, best hope” to save the planet. But as the United Nations conference enters its second week and negotiators from 197 countries knuckle down to finalize a new agreement to tackle global warming, attendees were sharply divided over how much progress is being made.

There’s the optimistic view: Heads of state and titans of industry showed up in force last week with splashy new climate promises, a sign that momentum was building in the right direction.

“I believe what is happening here is far from business as usual,” said John Kerry, President Biden’s special envoy on climate change, who has been attending U.N. climate summits since 1992. “I have never counted as many initiatives and as much real money — real money — being put on the table….”

Then there’s the pessimistic view: All these gauzy promises mean little without concrete plans to follow through. And that’s still lacking. Or, as the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg put it, the conference has mostly consisted of “blah, blah, blah.”

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Posted in --Scotland, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(Church Times) COP26: Faith leaders ‘all on the same page’ about climate

The Anglican Communion is helping to give a voice to vulnerable communities during the COP26 summit in Glasgow, the Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Olivia Graham, has said.

Bishop Graham, a member of the Church of England’s environment working group, has been at the summit this week, among the many Christian people and organisations lobbying and praying in Glasgow.

“Leaders from all faiths are on the same page about climate chaos and environmental crises,” she said. “When we focus on something as big as this, our differences fall into perspective.

“With tens of millions of members across 165 countries, the Anglican Communion brings a global perspective to the conference that’s untainted by national interests. One of the many benefits of an Anglican presence here is giving voice to the plight of the small island states, which are already becoming slowly submerged by rising sea levels.”

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Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, --Justin Welby, --Scotland, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(C of E) Church Commissioners among leading financial institutions to commit to actively tackle deforestation

More than 30 leading financial institutions, representing over US$ 8.7 trillion in assets under management, including the Church Commissioners for England, have committed to tackle agricultural commodity-driven deforestation as part of broader efforts to drive the global shift towards sustainable production and nature-based solutions.

Ending deforestation and implementing natural climate solutions could provide a third of the solution to achieving the Paris climate target, help halt and reverse biodiversity loss, and support human rights and food security.

With most deforestation driven by unsustainable production practices for palm oil, soy, cattle products and pulp and paper, resulting in more carbon emissions annually than the EU, action on these commodities is particularly urgent, which is the focus of the commitment made today.

Today’s commitment – to use best efforts to eliminate agricultural commodity-driven tropical deforestation from portfolios by 2025 – is clear evidence of the increasing awareness of the systemic risks and associated actions needed to address deforestation related to production of these commodities and accelerate the transition to sustainable commodity production.

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Posted in Animals, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Stewardship, Stock Market

(NYT) At Cop26 A pledge to end deforestation aims to protect ‘the lungs of our planet.’

In a sweeping accord aimed at protecting the world’s forests, which are crucial to absorbing carbon dioxide and slowing the rise in global warming, leaders of more than 100 countries gathered in Glasgow vowed on Tuesday to end deforestation by 2030.

President Biden said the United States would contribute billions to the global effort to protect the ecosystems that are vital for cleaning the air we breathe and the water we drink, and keeping the Earth’s climate in balance.

The pact — which includes countries like Brazil, Russia, China and the United States — encompasses about 85 percent of the world’s forests, officials said.

“These great teeming ecosystems — these cathedrals of nature,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain said in announcing the agreement, “are the lungs of our planet.”

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Stewardship

(EDP) Bishop Graham Usher of Norwich–Climate change is making world less stable, COP26 needs action

Our eyes should at least be seeing. The impact of climate change is frequently in the news. Extreme weather events – heavy rainfall, drought, heatwaves, tropical storms – are becoming more unpredictable, intense and frequent.

Climate change knows no international borders yet it is frequently the poorest nations, who have not been pumping carbon into the atmosphere, who are impacted the most and are the least able to adapt.

It is said that we are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation who can do anything about it.

Earlier this month I was at an event in the Vatican where Pope Francis had called together the leaders of the world’s faith communities. Their shared ‘appeal’, on behalf of perhaps 80 per cent of the world’s population, called for urgent action to be taken – both by individuals and nations.

There is no time to lose.

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Posted in --Scotland, Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, CoE Bishops, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology

The Church of England launches consultation on plans to get to net zero carbon in just nine years as new Synod prepares to meet

The Church of England is to consult dioceses, cathedrals, national institutions, parishes, schools, and other interested parties on a proposed routemap to achieve net zero carbon by 2030, as papers are published for November’s inaugural meeting of a new General Synod.

The draft routemap, published among today’s General Synod papers, suggests how all parts of the Church of England can make changes together to achieve the ambitious target set by General Synod in 2020 to be net zero carbon 20 years ahead of the Government’s targets.

It includes recommendations for building maintenance, heating and the availability of specialist advice for each setting alongside how the central Church and dioceses can offer support.

The newly elected Synod will be formally inaugurated on Tuesday November 16 at the start of a two-day meeting.

Items on the agenda include a debate on the wealth gap in the UK and discussions about Church matters including the recent review of governance and the development of a new vision and strategy for the Church of England in the 2020s and beyond.

That includes an ambitious goal to double the number of children and young people in churches.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(FT) Grade I to net zero: can historic houses be made energy efficient?

Lymm Hall is an Elizabethan manor house built in 1603. It is Grade II* listed, making it among England’s most protected properties and creating a problem for its owner Kit Knowles, who is attempting to bring the hall up to modern standards of energy efficiency.

“We have an incredibly effective guide for creating high-performance buildings. But there are a lot of issues with applying that to historic buildings,” says Knowles, who runs Ecospheric, which works on pioneering sustainable development projects. Lymm Hall is a test bed for the company’s work to retrofit historic properties and, ultimately, will be a home for Knowles and his family too.

The house, in Cheshire, has some very particular issues: “It has a cockfighting pit, a moat and an icehouse, each protected in their own right,” Knowles says.

While some of the challenges at Lymm Hall are unique, the problem of how to make old buildings more energy efficient and end their reliance on polluting heating systems cascades through the UK’s property market. And it is a problem that must be solved if the UK is to meet its goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

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Posted in Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Science & Technology

Church Commissioners for England voice the need for a Just Transition ahead of COP26

Since becoming founding members of the Financing a Just Transition Alliance in 2020, the Church Commissioners for England and Church of England Pensions Board have been active in identifying concrete steps that the financial sector can take to ensure that no-one is left behind as part of the transition to a low carbon economy.

This engagement with high carbon emitting investee companies has focussed on the issue of a Just Transition, ensuring that workers and communities are not left behind and are appropriately supported in the low-carbon transition.

Each company was actively considering how to address and achieve a Just Transition. However, their approaches varied greatly depending on factors such as location, developed versus emerging market, relationship with unions, governance, company size, status as local or international company, and ability to transfer and reskill employees within their own operations. For example, one company that the Commissioners is engaging with is training the operators of coal-fired facilities in a developing country to work in the fishing industry.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stock Market

(Archbp Stephen Cottrell) Watching and praying in hope for a positive outcome at COP26

In 2015 there was Pope Francis’ papal encyclical Laudato Si and the Lambeth Declaration on climate change, not to mention only last month we saw for the first time the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion jointly warning of the urgency of environmental sustainability and its impact on the poor.

That impact was something I witnessed myself three years ago when travelling in a part of Northern Kenya where it hadn’t rained for 18 months. Seeing children waving empty plastic bottles at us, begging for water was one of the saddest things I have experienced. Every day the equivalent of 12 jumbo jets worth of people die because they do not have access to fresh water. This horror is only going to worsen without tackling the injustice of the climate crisis.

For me the challenge of the environmental emergency is captured in the Lord’s Prayer. We pray “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as in heaven.” If you look in the Book of Common Prayer you’ll notice it says “in earth, as it is in heaven.” Somewhere in the last hundred years or so “in earth as it is in heaven” has somehow changed to, “on earth as it is in heaven”. It was not an organized change by some church commission, it just happened.

We used to believe, and to know, that we lived in earth, that we were part of it, interdependent with it. And if we had a relationship with the earth it was to be its good stewards, living in it, and with it, and serving it. Then somewhere in the last couple of hundred years we moved to a position from living in the earth to living on the earth. And now I’m separate from the earth. The earth is mine, and I can do with it what I will. And from that, disaster upon disaster has flowed. We’ve been blind to the consequences of our actions, and we now live in a time where we must take action.

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Posted in Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship