March: The Sisters of St Joseph of Peace announced that they had completed the divestment from fossil fuels of their UK investment portfolio. The Sisters made the decision to divest in 2018 and were 100% fossil free by 2019. Read more.
April: We published four case studies showing how faith organisations are investing in the clean energy future. They demonstrate how two cathedrals and a number of churches are making using of renewables on their buildings and investing in local community energy. Read them here. Sir John Houghton, a Patron of Operation Noah, passed away, aged 88. Read our tribute.
May: 42 faith institutions from 14 countries, including 21 from the UK, announced their divestment from fossil fuels. We worked with the World Council of Churches, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, Green Anglicans and GreenFaith on this announcement. Read more.
July: 60 people joined us for our first ever online annual Operation Noah Supporters’ Day. We heard from David Pickering, Bokani Tshidzu and James Anthony. Listen back to keynote speeches and read the Chair’s Report from our AGM. The Methodist Conference supported a motion on fossil fuel divestment, referring a decision to Methodist Council in October.August: More than 70 prominent civil society leaders – including the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams – signed a letter countering the Pensions Minister Guy Opperman’s continued invested in fossil fuel companies. Read more.
September: Climate Sunday launched. Climate Sunday was originally proposed by Operation Noah and is now supported by 20 organisations and run by CTBI. It asks churches to hold a climate-themed service in the lead-up to COP26 next year, make a commitment to take action to reduce their own greenhouse gases, and ask politicians and world leaders to tackle the climate emergency. Get involved.
October: During September and October, Operation Noah was involved in organising two webinars designed to help Catholic institutions both divest from fossil fuels and make investments with positive environmental and social impacts. Speakers included Lord Deben and Fr Augusto Zampini. They were each attended by more than 250 people. Watch them again here and here. The Methodist Council voted for a resolution on fossil fuel divestment.
November: 47 faith institutions from 21 countries, including the UK, announced their divestment from fossil fuels. In the UK, Catholic religious orders, United Reformed Church Synods and local Anglican and Methodist Churches joined the announcement.
Christmas is almost upon us and this month we’re taking the opportunity to reflect on 2020. It may have been a strange year, but we’ve still been working to encourage the Church to take urgent action in response to the climate crisis.
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Christian environmental and development charities Christian Aid, Eco-Congregation Scotland 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 Revd Elaine Garman, Acting Convenerof 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.
The Provost of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral Edinburgh, The Very Revd 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 Revd 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 Revd John Conway welcomed the work done to date by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (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.
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 target earlier this year.
At the Church of Scotland 2020 General Assembly in October, the Church’s Faith Impact Forum brought a proposal to the General Assembly ‘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.
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.’
Mary Sweetland, Chair 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.’
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.’
1. Operation Noah is a Christian charity working with the Church to inspire action on climate change. It works with all Christian denominations. operationnoah.org
2. 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. christianaid.org.uk
3. Eco-Congregation Scotland is a movement of Scottish church congregations, of all denominations and none, committed to addressing environmental issues through their life and mission. ecocongregationscotland.org
4. 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.’
Steph Lake explains the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill.
The Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill has been written by an alliance of scientists, lawyers, academics and activists, orchestrated by the CEE Alliance, in an attempt to push the government to ACT and ACT NOW on the climate crisis!
This new bill, which at the time of
writing has the cross-party support of 84 MP’s and has been tabled in the
Commons, seeks to ensure that the government and local authorities aren’t just
making hollow environmental pledges, but that they have a comprehensive,
resourced and urgent plan.
Its aim, according to Kumi Naidoo, former International Executive Director of Greenpeace International and Secretary General of Amnesty International, is simple, to outline “the path needed to avoid the catastrophe outlined by the United Nations… it is farsighted, aiming to protect those at risk now and in the future.” He believes that, ‘the urgency and scale of the response required to tackle the emergency facing life on Earth is in this bill.’
The bill is continuing to gather support from a broad range of campaign groups,
businesses, charities and individuals, with Operation Noah adding its name to
What will the CEE Bill
The Bill will set an emergency path for
the UK to follow and takes a holistic approach to tackling both the climate
emergency and the ecological emergency.
force us to account for our entire carbon footprint as a country. This will
include international aviation and shipping emissions as well as emissions from
all our goods and services, whether they are produced in the UK or produced
abroad and imported into the UK.
It asks us
not to rely on technology to save the day by circumscribing reliance on
speculative future carbon capture technologies.
also ask us to actively protect and restore nature and biodiversity, including along
domestic and international supply chains. It has a focus on biodiversity, soils
and natural carbon sinks.
see the creation of a Citizen’s Assembly ‘with bite’ that allows ordinary people
to have a real say on the way forward.
Leadership at COP26
In the lead up to COP 26, which will be
hosted in Glasgow in November 2021, it is essential that the UK government takes
a lead on the climate crisis. The UK must take responsibility for its
contribution to the climate crisis, as we are disproportionately responsible
for both historic and existing emissions and, therefore, need to move furthest
and fastest in our response. The CEE bill will allow us to do this.
Do we need another
At a recent CEE Alliance webinar,
Caroline Lucas Green MP for Brighton and Hove alerted us to the fact that
“every warning light on the dashboard is flashing red” when it comes to the
climate crisis. The CEE Bill is needed to build on the success of the Climate
Change Act 2008.
She emphasised that the existing \Climate Change Act is not ambitious or comprehensive enough for the scale of action needed. The science has moved on and our position concerning tipping points, global emissions and rising temperatures is so much worse than it was when the CCA bill was first passed over a decade ago.
The UK government has
pledged to be carbon zero by 2050, but 2050 is too late. According to the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), if we halve emissions global by 2030 and reach
net zero by 2050 we have a 50:50 chance of limiting warming to 1.5°. This is no
better than flipping a coin!
What can you do?
The CEE bill needs to be made law, only
then can its brilliant pledges be put into action!
Join the campaign by signing up at the CEE website where you can find out more about how you can lobby
your MP and local authority.