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“Then (Jesus) said to them ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’ ” (Luke 12.15)
“Whoever loves money never has enough: whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” (Ecclesiastes 5.10)
“We cannot have a sound society unless we have a sufficient number of men and women who cannot be bought – unpurchasable people.” (W.E. Hocking)
“Jesus Christ specialises in producing such unpurchasable people . . . because he transforms them from within and reminds them of the need to be rich towards God.” (Selwyn Hughes)
Friday 26th May
A YouGov survey for Friends of the Earth has found that 81% of people polled think that councils should reduce grass-cutting to boost the population of insect pollinators. 68% support councils reducing the use of bee-harming pesticides and 92% support councils in planting more bee-friendly plants in parks and community spaces. FoE comments: “Policies such as allowing grass to grow on roadside verges will help bees, save cash-strapped councils money and are supported by the public. We hope many more councils will stand up for our bees and introduce pollinator action plans in the months ahead.”
Saturday 27th May
The UK Air Quality Plan was due to be published on April 24th. However, DEFRA has postponed publication of the final version until September 15th at latest. Many have questioned why, if the plan was ready on April 24th, it cannot now be published. Client Earth comments: “This is not a political issue, but a public health issue. Whichever party is in power, the British public need to see an air quality plan which rests on good scientific evidence and ensures that people do not have to breathe toxic air and suffer the health consequences for a moment longer.” Client Earth is considering further court action against DEFRA if it continues to procrastinate.
Sunday 28th May
Lord God, we live in a world where things have gone badly wrong because we have left you out of account. We have worshipped other gods and have not hallowed your Name. We have adopted our own way and have not served your Kingdom. We have chosen what pleases us and have not done your will.
Dear Lord, forgive us our folly and blindness. Turn us back to your self, for the sake of your Son, our only Saviour. (Frank Colquhoun)
Monday 29th May
Innovate UK has announced £18 million of government funding for 12 projects designed to promote cleaner, greener travel. Electric vehicle (EV) charging specialist ZAPINAMO has been awarded £3.1 million to roll out portable EV charging points. ITM Power will receive nearly £3.5 million to provide cost-competitive hydrogen to a fleet of 20 fuel cell buses in Birmingham. Energy storage developer Powervault has been awarded over £388,000 to explore how old EV batteries can be re-purposed to boost domestic energy storage capacity. Innovate UK said: “If (these projects) deliver the expected outcomes, we expect them to be rapidly adopted and scaled up across the UK, showing that we are a great place to develop innovative solutions to society’s challenges.”
Tuesday 30th May
Since the National Trust took ownership of the Kinder Estate in 1982, it has installed over 6,000 hand-built dams to slow down the water that would normally race down the gullies into the rivers below. These dams have raised the water table on the moor, allowing water to trickle off the land and alleviating flood risks downstream. The NT has also restored 500 acres of eroding bare peat bog, enabling it to act as a carbon trap, preventing harmful CO2 escaping to the atmosphere. They have also fenced the summit and removed 38.000 sheep from the mountain. Wildlife has benefited as a result, such as mountain hare, red grouse, golden plover and common lizard.
Wednesday 31st May
Next Saturday June 3rd, an Anabaptist/Green Christian conference takes place at Warwick Road URC church, Coventry CV1 1EX on the theme “Is religion costing the earth?” Speakers include Joshua Searle (Spurgeon’s College, London), Ruth Valerio (TearFund), Cheryl Hunt (theologian) and Chris Walton (Green Christian). There are workshops on “Jesus and Wild Nature”, “Joy in Enough”, “What is an Anabaptist?” with a visit to Five Acre Farm. For more details, go to www.greenchristian.org.uk
Thursday 1st June
Archbishop Justin Welby, as president of BMO Global Asset Management, has played a crucial role in BMO’s decision to sell £20 million of shares in fossil fuel companies because of concerns about climate change. Its director said: “If all current known reserves are extracted and burnt, we know that the world would not meet the 2 degrees temperature limit under the Paris Agreement. Investment in companies with fossil fuel reserves is increasingly incompatible with the ethical and sustainability objectives of the strategies that we run.”
Friday 2nd June
Global divestment from fossil fuels is gathering pace all over the world. The Irish Parliament has voted in favour of a law requiring its £6.8 billion Strategic Investment Fund to divest from all fossil fuels over the next 5 years. More than a quarter of Britain’s Quaker meetings have pledged to divest and the Catholic Church’s divestment policy has gained momentum as nine of its institutions have pulled out of fossil fuel investments.
Saturday 3rd June
The Government’s draft Air Quality Plan states that responsibility for imposing charges on highly-polluting vehicles rests with local authorities, but offers no incentives for them to act. The six new Metropolitan mayors elected last month all support green infrastructure. Merseyside Mayor Steve Rotheram has pledged to invest in electric charging points for EVs and aims to buy only electric or hydrogen buses from 2020. Andy Street in the West Midlands wants to create a clean air zone in Birmingham. The Big Birmingham Bikes scheme already provides 4,000 bikes in disadvantaged areas of the city and he wants to raise spending in cycling by 40 times its present level. Consultation on the Government’s plan is open until June 15th.
Sunday 4th June. Environment Sunday
Father, we thank you for the new awareness among many people of the need to care for and heal your world. Show us, we pray, the actions we each can take to play our part in the healing process, to lead by example and to be prepared to give reasons for what we do.
Monday 5th June
The Conservative election manifesto has disappointed many in its omission of any proposals to tackle the major public issue of our time – the pollution of our towns and cities by dirty diesel vehicles. The renewed commitment to building a new runway at Heathrow also carries the threat of additional air pollution under the flight paths. Even more seriously, it threatens the UK’s vaunted position as a ‘global leader on tackling climate change.’
Tuesday 6th June
The omission of any reference to nuclear power in the Conservative manifesto is a welcome recognition of the unacceptable costs of this technology. “Energy policy should be focused on outcomes rather than the means we reach our objectives – reliable and affordable energy – seizing the opportunity that new technology presents and meeting our global commitments on climate change.” The surest way not to deliver cheap energy is to build new nuclear power stations. Hinkley C energy users will be paying more than double the current wholesale price of energy, inflation adjusted, for 35 years, costing the UK economy £50-100 billion.
Wednesday 7th June
Other factors in this turnaround in Government policy could be:
- The apparently unbuildable reactor designs hit by massive cost overruns in France, Finland and the USA
- The bankruptcy of Toshiba-owned Westinghouse, the world’s biggest nuclear power contractor
- The critical state of France’s EDF and Areva, now propped up by the inexhaustible largesse of French taxpayers
- Investor reluctance to have anything to do with new nuclear power stations
- The lack of any long-term solution to the disposal of nuclear waste
- The steep decline in the cost of alternative energy technologies such as solar, wind, large-scale batteries and smart grids.
Finally, France’s President Macron may reasonably prefer to conserve EDF’s dwindling resources rather than blow them on a potentially ruinous nuclear project in the UK.
Thursday 8th June
The proposed new runway at Heathrow would make it the UK’s largest source of greenhouse gases and increase UK emissions by up to 15% over the limit recommended by the Government’s Committee on Climate Change. However, a global carbon offsetting scheme called CORSIA could, it is thought, allow the Government to wash its hands of the extra emissions. WWF comments: “This international offsetting scheme is certainly no panacea for limiting the climate change impacts of airport expansion. Ministers should come up with a credible plan for limiting UK aviation emissions before making any decisions about airport expansion.” Any extra carbon emissions cannot be wished out of existence by virtual transfers elsewhere.
Friday 9th June
The Conservative manifesto proudly stated “We are at the forefront of action against global climate change” Yet there is no mention of any carbon plan to secure the UK 2050 carbon reduction target. Instead, there is strengthened support for fracking, which would lock us into more carbon emissions for years to come. Planning permission is no longer required for exploratory wells or other oil or gas drilling, so stripping local councils of their power to decide in the interests of local people. So much for the Government’s localisation agenda, despite growing public resistance across the UK.
Saturday 10th June
Operation Noah meets today for its AGM at All Saints Centre, Kings Heath, Birmingham B14 7RA from 12 to 4.. All are invited to hear and discuss how to take action on climate change in our churches locally and at a national level. There will be presentations and discussions around:
“Baked Alaska”, the new Riding Lights resource for schools
The Bright Now campaign on church disinvestment from fossil fuels and investment in clean alternatives
Power for Good Cooperative, and
Footsteps in Faith for a Low Carbon Future.
For booking details, go to http://operationnoah.org/news-events/operation-noah-day/
Sunday 11th June
Father, we sometimes feel overwhelmed by the scale and complication of the environmental we face. Help us to remember that this is your world, and you are in charge. Teach us how we may respond to the challenges we face, and help us to understand that where we lead, others will surely follow.
Monday 12th June
Environmental charities have been at the forefront of efforts to raise public awareness of the threats to the natural world on which we all depend. Now the Electoral Commission has warned that charities must declare all their campaigning expenditure that could be deemed political over a period of 12 months before an election, to ensure that they are not in breach of the Lobbying Act 2014. This retrospective warning will have a huge impact on the activities of charities. The EC has threatened to close down Greenpeace’s campaigning activity if it fails to comply with the Act. Its director, John Sauven, comments: “All it takes is for a snap election to be called and a campaign like Make Poverty History could be in breach of the law. There’s a real risk that charities will ,pull out of the political debate for fear of being caught up in this bureaucratic and legal quagmire. If neither the Government nor the Commission is willing to sort out this mess, our only option is to put the matter in front of a judge. We’re not going to stand idly by as Britain’s vibrant civil society is cowed into silence by this bureaucratic and legal nightmare.”
Tuesday 13th June
The Swiss people have voted in a referendum to phase out all five of its nuclear power plants and to substitute a four-fold rise in wind and solar generation over the next 20 years. Nuclear power currently provides about one-third of Switzerland’s energy. According to the government, the new law will cost the average family an extra 40 Sw. francs ($41) a year to help drive investment in renewables. An additional 450 million Sw. francs will be raised from an existing fossil fuel tax to cut energy use in buildings by 43% by 2035. Green energy projects will take priority in the planning system.
Wednesday 14th June
A series of reports from NATO warns of the growing threat from climate change to peace and security in the Middle East and Africa, and urges all nations to stick to the Paris Agreement. The Middle East and North Africa is home to 5% of the world’s population, but has access to just 1% of its renewable water supply Another report said that the present refugee crisis and political instability in the Middle East could be a ‘harbinger of things to come.’ “It is distinctly possible that global climate challenges could trigger mass movements in regions which no longer have the water and agricultural resources needed to support life.”
Thursday 15th June
Today at 7 pm at the Royal Geographical Society, London, the winners of the annual Ashden Awards will be announced. The number of finalists has been whittled down to 22 organisations working to reduce CO2 emissions and save on energy bills by reducing energy usage in buildings, providing energy storage, creating smart energy solutions and promoting clean air in cities. One of the finalists is Nottingham City Council which has placed a modest charge on employers providing 11 or more parking places and invests the revenue in transport measures such as electric buses, trams and a public transport smartcard. The idea is to reduce the number of car journeys and provide better public transport.
Friday 16th June
Car park operator Citipark has launched a tariff which awards ultra-low-emission vehicles (those emitting less than 75 grams of CO2 per kilometre) a 20% reduction in the cost of parking at its car parks in London. This comes after the Mayor announced a T-charge levy on the most polluting cars entering the capital. Westminster Council is also trialling a new parking tariff where diesel drivers, if visiting the area, pay 50% more. All these are attempts to improve the air quality by encouraging motorists to drive greener cars. No doubt there will be more
Another Ashden award finalist is Carbon Co-op of Manchester, a community benefit society which is helping its members to make major energy and CO2 savings by retrofitting their homes. For a fee of £35 a year, members get discounts on training events and home energy surveys and can purchase work and materials at a discount to reduce the cost of retrofitting their homes. In a recent programme carried out by Carbon Co-op, the average savings per property were about £1,000 a year.
Sunday 18th June
Dear Father, you have inspired scientists down the ages to search out the mysteries of your creation and to benefit humankind in so many fields. Send us your Holy Spirit now, in this our time of supreme need, that he may reveal to us the path we must follow if we are to fulfil your purposes on earth. Remove from our society all prejudice, special pleading and vested interests, that we may truly seek your will and find the courage to surmount all obstacles. This we beg in the Name of your dear Son, Jesus Christ.
Monday 19th June
Can President Trump tear up the Paris Agreement?
- 34 of the 50 US states already have climate action plans and are committed to forge ahead without federal support. 27 of them have even committed to using 100% renewables by 2035.
- Over 1,000 US businesses including Google, Microsoft and Walmart have signed a ‘Business Backs Low Carbon USA’ statement urging Trump to stay with the Paris Agreement
- Both the solar and wind industries are creating jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the US economy.
- In the UK 150,000 of us have signed a petition asking Theresa May to pick up the phone and tell Trump to stay with the Paris Agreement.
Tuesday 20th June
No less than 38 million pieces of plastic have been found on Henderson Island, an uninhabited island forming part of the UK’s Pitcairn Islands territory. 18 tonnes of plastic have been washed up from the surrounding ocean – the highest density of human-made debris found anywhere in the world. In the UK 16 million plastic bottles end up in the environment every day. Coca-Cola alone produces 3,400 single-use plastic bottles a second. Let us all call on them to ditch throwaway plastic and embrace sensible packaging . Http://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/page/speakout/ocean-plastic?
The new Government should immediately introduce a Deposit Return Scheme. We can all reduce our plastic footprint.
Wednesday 21st June
In the run-up to Brexit the UK wishes to enter into trade agreements with many countries including the USA. Giant US healthcare corporations have been itching to get their hands on Britain’s healthcare industry, as shown by their approaches made to Theresa May during her visit to the USA. In addition, the US government has always been clear that our food and farming regulations, which protect consumers from the high-intensity, high-chemical and low-animal welfare industrial farming common in the USA, are in their eyes ‘barriers to trade’. Any deal with the USA would probably strip away UK regulations on GM crops, and antibiotic and hormone use in farming. If allowed, this would open up our farmers to devastating competition with US agribusinesses.
Thursday 22nd June
Author Richard Louw coined the phrase ‘nature deficit disorder’ to describe the human cost of alienation from nature. Children often spend too much time slumped in a chair staring at a smartphone, tablet or TV screen, and too little time outdoors running, riding or playing in the fresh air. Louw and others have produced many ideas to get children off their gadgets, among them:
- Setting up a tent, cooking on an open fire, playing hide-and-seek in the woods
- Creepy-Crawly Club. Hanging up a white cloth at night and shining a light on it to attract all kinds of creepy-crawlies
- Yoghurt Pot Garden. Punch a hole in the bottom, fill the pot with soil, plant seeds and water them sparingly. Seeds that germinate can soon be planted out
- Create a patch of soft mud and check it next day for tracks. Make a plaster cast of the prints.
Friday 23rd June
Every year one-third of the world’s food is wasted. In Britain this adds up to 10 million tonnes of it every year. Food waste also contributes around 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. A report from Champions 12,3 – a group of major food manufacturers, retailers and service providers – finds that for every £1 invested in reducing food waste there is a positive return on the investment. The target – in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals – is to halve per capita food waste by 2030 and to reduce food losses along production and supply chains. Major supermarkets increasingly share daily any surplus food that is safe to eat with charities such as FareShare and FoodCloud.
Saturday 24th June
Researchers at the University of Ghent have found that microplastics ingested by edible marine life accumulate in our bodies and could become a long-term health risk. They calculate that more than 99% of the microplastics pass through our bodies, but the rest is taken up by body tissue. The researchers admit to ignorance as to whether chemicals leaching out of these plastics can cause toxicity. The Prince of Wales comments: “I find it sobering to think that almost all the plastic ever produced is still here somewhere on the planet, and will remain here for centuries to come.”
Sunday 25th June
Father, we pray for the scientists engaged in research into ways of reducing our carbon footprint, and for the politicians who are responsible for converting their recommendations into legislation. Grant them honesty, integrity and deep perception of the long-term effects of their actions, so that short-term economics are not allowed to weight their decisions when so much of what they decide will affect many generations to come.
Monday 26th June
According to a report from the National Infrastructure Commission called ‘Smart Power’ , if just 5% of current peak electricity demand is met by demand-side solutions, i.e. making consumption more flexible, our energy system would be £200 million a year cheaper to run and end-users could benefit by up to £790 million. Forum for the Future, with Sainsbury’s, United Utilities and Tarmac, is launching a movement called ‘The Living Grid’ which aims to create a new approach to energy that takes inspiration from nature to deliver, store and use electricity in the best way possible, making use of the abundant renewable energy sources around us. Using smart technology, appliances are upgraded to balance supply and demand by making second-by-second adjustments to energy use, so helping to free up power at peak times and consuming more when there’s an energy surplus.
Tuesday 27th June
Swedish firm Vattenfall is building a 228 MW. 76-turbine wind farm at Pen y Cymoedd in Wales, with a pioneering 22 MW. battery system which will store power generated by the wind turbines to help stabilise the electricity grid. Known as ‘Enhanced Frequency Response’, this service evens out the electricity output. When the frequency falls, power is pumped into the grid. If it gets too high, the batteries can draw in excess power. The system, known as ‘battery@pyc‘ is expected to be introduced at Vattefall’s wind farms across Europe.
Wednesday 28th June
Offshore wind turbines have more than doubled their power capacity since Dong Energy constructed its first turbines off the Merseyside coast in 2007. As the efficiency and power potential of each turbine increases, the costs keep falling. In the latest Government auction, the strike price for Dong Energy’s new Bobo Bank wind farm is expected to fall below that contracted for Hinkley Point C. Its cables are manufactured at Hartlepool and its blades in Hull and the Isle of Wight
Thursday 29th June
Scottish Power’s £2.5 billion East Anglia wind project is due to power the grid in 2019. Meanwhile, Scottish Power has put in successful bids.for two major US offshore wind projects, each the size of its entire UK portfolio. The USA is one of 43 countries that British marine and wing power industries have started to export to as part of a $290 billion global renewable energy market. Renewable UK comments: “British innovation and expertise are valued highly around the world. Other countries are looking closely at our world-leading offshore wind industry and seeking to learn from it.”
Friday 30th June
From tomorrow until the 9th, a week of action on climate change, organised by the UK Climate Coalition will provide inspiration and encouragement for everyone concerned about our climate. There will be local opportunities for people to speak out about the things they care about, with nature walks, tea parties and visits to community energy projects. See www.theclimatecoalition.org.uk
Forum for the Future
Global Justice Now
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