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We’re hiring! Bright Now Campaign Manager and Bright Now Campaign Officer job vacancies

Posted in: Blog, Featured
Date posted: 16 November 2021

We are hiring for two exciting new roles, a Bright Now Campaign Manager and a Bright Now Campaign Officer. The contract period for both roles will be two years.

We are looking for two enthusiastic and motivated people to join our growing team at this key moment for Operation Noah’s Bright Now campaign. The Bright Now campaign encourages UK Churches to divest from fossil fuel companies and invest in climate solutions – working with partners in the UK and globally.

Operation Noah has received grant funding to scale up our work with UK Churches and faith institutions on investment in climate solutions, such as renewable energy. We will also work with partners on a campaign to encourage the Church of England to increase tree coverage on its land and improve its land management practices, given the urgent climate and biodiversity crises.

The Campaign Manager position is a full-time role, working 35 hours per week, with an emphasis on impact investing in climate solutions and nature-based solutions. Read the Bright Now Campaign Manager job description here.

The Campaign Officer position is a part-time role, working 21 hours per week, with an emphasis on nature-based solutions and impact investing in climate solutions. Read the Bright Now Campaign Officer job description here.

The successful candidates will be employees of Operation Noah. These jobs are based in our office near London Bridge and can involve some home working, subject to agreement. (Operation Noah will continue to be responsive to changing circumstances and to ensure the safety of our employees.)

We expect to hold interviews on Monday 13 December (for the Bright Now Campaign Manager role) and Wednesday 15 December (for the Bright Now Campaign Officer role).

If you would like to apply for either of these roles, please email admin@operationnoah.org by Sunday 5 December with your CV and a cover letter.

Ahead of COP26, 72 Institutions Make Largest-Ever Faith Divestment Announcement

Posted in: Blog, Featured, News

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland and UK faith groups representing nearly 2,000 local churches announce divestment before UN Climate Conference

Tuesday 26 October 2021: Today, five days before the UN climate conference, COP26, in Glasgow, and four days before the G20 Summit in Rome, 72 faith institutions, including 37 from the UK, announce their divestment from fossil fuels in the largest-ever joint divestment announcement by religious organisations.

The global divestment announcement comes from faith institutions with more than $4.2 billion of combined assets under management in Australia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Nepal, Peru, Ukraine, the UK, the United States and Zambia.

Participating institutions include the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland; the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church; the Presbyterian Church of Wales; the Presbyterian Church in Ireland; 15 Catholic dioceses in the UK and Ireland, including the Archdioceses of Glasgow, St Andrews & Edinburgh, Birmingham and Southwark; the Church of England Dioceses of Truro and Sodor & Man; and the Buddhist religious movement Soka Gakkai International – UK. The UK Churches and dioceses involved in this announcement represent nearly 2,000 local churches.

It follows the recent call from Pope Francis and other faith leaders to global governments to address the ‘unprecedented ecological crisis’ ahead of COP26 and calls from an international alliance of grassroots multi-faith activists who have called for an immediate end to all fossil fuel finance. Today’s announcement shows an increasing number of Catholic institutions are responding to the recent Vatican recommendation to divest from fossil fuel companies and invest in climate solutions.

Bishop Bill Nolan, Bishop of Galloway and Lead Bishop on the Environment for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said: ‘The bishops decided that disinvestment would show that the status quo is not acceptable and further, that given the harm that the production and consumption of fossil fuels is causing to the environment and to populations in low income countries, it was not right to profit from investment in these companies. Disinvestment is a sign that justice demands that we must move away from fossil fuels.’

Many UK Churches have fully divested from fossil fuel companies this year, including the Church of Scotland, the Church in Wales and the Baptist Union.

The fossil fuel divestment movement has grown exponentially in recent years. According to a new report published today, more than 1,485 institutions with combined assets of over $39 trillion have made some form of divestment commitment, up from a starting point of $50 billion in 2014. Faith institutions have been at the forefront of the global divestment movement, representing more than 35% of total commitments. Glasgow, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Seattle and Auckland are also announcing their divestment commitments today, joining the C40 Divest / Invest Forum supporting the advancement of divestment of their city and pension funds. 

The International Energy Agency (IEA) stated in its recent Net Zero by 2050 Roadmap that there can be no new coal, oil and gas developments if the world is to limit global warming to below 1.5°C and prevent catastrophic climate impacts. As world leaders prepare to meet at COP26, the UK Government is coming under increasing pressure over plans for the Cambo oil field off the coast of Scotland, supported by oil giant Shell, which would release emissions equivalent to the annual carbon pollution from 18 coal-fired power stations.

Last month, more than 20 Southern African Anglican bishops including the Archbishop of Cape Town, the three bishops of Mozambique and the Bishop of Namibia called for an immediate halt to gas and oil exploration in Africa. They said that ‘a new era of economic colonialism by fossil fuel companies is well underway’ and that ‘Africa’s natural habitats are being destroyed at an alarming rate through the extraction of oil and gas’.

James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Manager at Operation Noah, said: ‘As the UK prepares to host COP26, we are delighted that 37 UK faith institutions have decided to divest from fossil fuel companies and join this record global divestment announcement. We call on the UK and global governments to end fossil fuel subsidies and bring an immediate halt to new oil and gas exploration, including the Cambo oil field.’

A full list of the 72 institutions divesting from fossil fuels and quotes from leaders can be found here.

Statements from leaders:

Archbishop Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, said: ‘Our commitment to divestment in fossil fuels is a response both to the cry of the earth and of the poor, taking us one step further towards its consolation. We join many other faith organisations who are making the ethical choice to ‘take care not to support companies that harm human or social ecology… or environmental ecology’, as Pope Francis calls us to do in the Vatican’s manual Journeying Towards Care For Our Common Home. To see so many united in this aim gives me great hope for the future.’

David Palmer, Chief Executive Officer of the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church, said: ‘The pace of change across the oil and gas sector has been inadequate and falls well below the targets set at COP21 in Paris. We hope that COP26 will refresh these targets and we look forward to joining other faith groups in Glasgow next month in calling for immediate action to address the climate emergency.’

Revd Evan Morgan, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Wales, said: ‘Our General Assembly passed a resolution to divest from fossil fuels this year as part of our new green environmental policy as a denomination. We realise time is running out and to safeguard the planet and fulfil our role as stewards of God’s creation, the Church amongst other organisations must act. The time for words, however well meaning, is over and actions now are the order of the day and to be proactive in our response to the challenges of the climate crisis.’

Rt Revd Dr David Bruce, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, said: ‘At its General Assembly on 5 October 2021, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland directed its trustees to employ a new strategy in relation to companies producing fossil fuels or deriving part of their turnover from their use. Specifically this will mean divesting from those companies that derive more than 10% of their turnover from oil and gas extraction and engaging with other companies which are major users of fossil fuels. We believe that our investment policies should be informed by the biblical understanding of creation that leads to a commitment to God’s world and to our global neighbours.’

Robert Harrap, General Director of Soka Gakkai International – UK, said: ‘As a Buddhist organisation based on a philosophy of respect for the dignity of life and the non-duality of the individual and the environment, it is important to us that we invest sustainably and responsibly. Our trustees have decided to divest from fossil fuels because this is a key way to protect our precious planet and the people most at risk from the climate crisis.’

Bishop Luke Pato of Namibia said: ‘We are guardians of the land for the generations to come. Namibia is the driest country south of the Sahara and our ground water is the heritage we leave for our children and grandchildren. We cannot risk drilling operations that pollute precious water sources, abuse indigneous rights and threaten the heritage site of the Okavango Delta.’

Lorna Gold, Chair of Laudato Si’ Movement, said: ‘People of faith are divesting at scale from coal, oil and gas, calling on the G20 in Rome and world leaders at COP26 to finally conclude that there is no future for fossil fuel finance. Fossil fuel divestment is a key part of ensuring a just transition for all, especially communities around the world who have done least to cause the climate crisis.’

Revd Dr Rachel Mash, Environmental Coordinator of Green Anglicans, said: ‘Faced with environmental devastation, pollution of precious water sources and abuse of land rights caused by fossil fuel companies, it is easy for those on the frontline of climate change to feel overwhelmed by the power of these corporations. When we hear that faith communities are taking their money out of these companies, it rekindles hope that we are not alone.’

Revd Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith, said: ‘In the midst of a climate emergency, fossil fuel divestment is a moral imperative. More and more religious groups – Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish as well as Christian – must continue to add their names to the growing list of divestment commitments, and must also lead the way by investing in ensuring access to clean energy for absolutely everyone – particularly the 800 million people who lack electricity.’

ENDS

Contact: Cameron Conant, Operation Noah: communications@operationnoah.org

James Buchanan, Operation Noah: james.buchanan@operationnoah.org

Notes for editors:

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. Operation Noah’s Bright Now campaign encourages UK Churches to divest from fossil fuels and invest in climate solutions. brightnow.org.uk3. The Vatican recommended divestment from fossil fuel companies in June 2020. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-vatican-environment-idUSKBN23P1HI

3. The Vatican recommended divestment from fossil fuel companies in June 2020. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-vatican-environment-idUSKBN23P1HI

4. In September, more than 20 Southern African Anglican bishops called for an immediate halt to gas and oil exploration in Africa. https://www.greenanglicans.org/anglican-bishops-call-for-an-immediate-halt-to-gas-and-oil-exploration-in-africa/

5. The International Energy Agency (IEA) stated in its Net Zero by 2050 Roadmap that there can be no new coal, oil and gas developments if the world is to limit global warming to below 1.5°C. https://www.iea.org/news/pathway-to-critical-and-formidable-goal-of-net-zero-emissions-by-2050-is-narrow-but-brings-huge-benefits

6. The Global Divestment Announcement Statement can be found at the bottom of this blog: https://brightnow.org.uk/news/global-divestment-announcement-divest-your-church-cop26/

Operation Noah Trustee Shilpita Mathews Named Official COP26 Observer

Posted in: Blog, Featured

Shilpita Mathews, an Operation Noah trustee, environmental economist and member of Young Christian Climate Network, will produce daily videos from COP26 in Glasgow that we will share via Operation Noah’s social media channels. Here, Shilpita reflects on being an official UN observer at COP26 and what she hopes to achieve.

I will be going to the United Nations’ climate change conference, COP26, in Glasgow. As an official UNFCCC observer (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), I will be in the blue zone of the conference where key negotiations will take place and where delegates from 197 parties and observer NGOs will also be, including observers from Christian NGOs.

This is a chance to make faith-based voices heard at an historic conference that could ultimately determine whether or not we limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, a goal that will require global emissions to be effectively halved by 2030 and for ‘net-zero’ emissions to be achieved by 2050.

Countries will be making important decisions around adaptation and resilience, loss and damage, and climate financing for developing countries. And numerous organisations, such as YCCN, Tearfund and Christian Aid, are calling on leaders to be much more ambitious in their commitments.

What is the Christian Climate Observers Program?

I have been selected as an observer as part of the Christian Climate Observers Program (CCOP). This programme trains the next generation of climate leaders from a Christian and missional perspective. CCOP is organised by a consortium of organisations, such as the Lausanne Network and A Rocha. At the conference itself, I will be representing the World Evangelical Alliance.

My goals for COP26

Ensuring social and racial justice is at the heart of climate action

I will use this opportunity to call on UK Christian leaders to link climate action with racial and social justice. Most importantly, I want to diversify the conversation on climate justice by calling youth from minority communities to make connections globally and to take climate action locally.

As a trustee for Operation Noah and a member of the Young Christian Climate Network, I am eager to build on the momentum of COP26 as Christian NGOs respond to the call for climate justice. Following CCOP, I hope to speak at churches, write about my experiences for Christian charities and use my learnings from CCOP to drive climate action amongst Christians.

In the words of John Stott, former rector of my home church in London:

It seems quite inexplicable to me that there are some Christians who claim to love and worship God, to be disciples of Jesus, and yet have no concern for the earth that bears his stamp of ownership. They do not care about the abuse of the earth, and indeed, by their wasteful and over-consumptive lifestyles, they contribute to it.”

Bringing faith leaders and the private sector together

As someone working in the private sector as an economist, I believe that we can work #TogetherForOurPlanet. Business and industry play a key role in financing climate solutions, with private finance accounting for the majority of climate finance in 2018-2019.  Similarly, faith groups represent 80% of the world’s population and play a powerful role in advocating for change, as demonstrated in the leadership of Pope Francis. COP26 is an opportunity to build bridges at a time of crisis.

Business and industry are at the forefront of climate risks, as we found in the Third UK Climate Change Risk Assessment, of which I was a contributing author. Similarly, a majority of Christians today live in developing countries, and represent the communities most vulnerable to climate change. I want to understand synergies between the two groups to help enhance climate resilience.

How can you support me

COP26 is bound to be a rewarding but overwhelming experience and I would appreciate your prayers, support and encouragement.

You can follow my COP26 journey in three ways:

CCOP21 newsletter: Please fill out this form to receive daily prayer newsletters from COP26 by the CCOP21 team.

60-second Twitter reflections: While at COP26, I will be posting a 60-second reflection every day. You can follow me on Twitter (@ShilpitaMathews) or via the @OperationNoah handle.

Join ongoing events: There are many ways to support COP26 events in Glasgow, but I would specifically like to invite you to join Young Christian Climate Network in celebrating our 4 month-long Relay to COP26. Join us online or in-person as we give thanks and look ahead.

Thank you!

Finally, thank you for your incredible support in helping me reach 125% of my crowdfunding target to attend COP26! I am so thankful for your generosity and for your encouragement in this journey. 

Shilpita Mathews holds degrees from Cambridge University and the London School of Economics. She is an environmental economist and was a co-author of the Third UK Climate Change Risk Assessment.

Running Tenants of the King Online

Posted in: Blog

Many of us are turning to online activities at the moment as a way of staying connected to each other. If you would like to ‘meet’ virtually with others from your church then why not run an online Tenants of the King Bible Study? Read on for suggestions on how to run the bible study using a web-based conference calling platform called Zoom.

Setting up Zoom

Zoom is the online conferencing platform used by Operation Noah. There are other conferencing platforms out there you could consider, we just happen to use this one. At the moment Zoom is offering resources to help people get up to speed with using their facilities. You will need to set up an account, but can use it for free if you don’t mind having your conference in 40 minute sessions, as it times out after 40 minutes and everyone simply clicks the same link to meet up again.

How to run the course

1.Order your Tenants of the King Study Guides and videos

Order enough booklets and videos on usb stick for everyone, and deliver or post them to your group members. You are welcome to share one usb stick between different groups. However, you may want to order one usb per group, to save having to pass it round.

2. Keep it small

To ensure everyone has a chance to share their thoughts, aim for 10 or fewer people in the group, just as you would with a face-to-face group. If interest is high, form two or three groups that meet at different times, providing more alternatives for people with busy schedules.

3. Expect technical mishaps

Bad wifi-connectivity and poor sound quality are bound to happen. Expect them, and it won’t be so bad when they occur. Spend time before your first study checking everyone’s equipment and helping them learn how to use it. It often helps to be connected by Zoom, or whatever platform you are using, and telephone at the same time. People may need to purchase microphones, speakers or headsets. Perhaps there are a few people in your group who could help do this. Give yourself 30 mins in your first session to iron out technical issues and remind people how to use the platform.

4. How to run the session

Begin by ensuring everyone can see and hear each other. You may need to ask people to mute themselves when they are not speaking, or the host may need to mute people – politely tell people that this is what you are going to do for some, if not all, of the meeting. During the discussion sections you may want to ask people to use the ‘hand raising’ option so as to allow all to have a chance of speaking.

The leader, who might be a different group member each week, runs the session using the leaders’ notes. When the video is played, for Zoom, this can be shown using the sharing option, described here

5. Keep to time

Being online rather than in-person is more tiring. Keep the session to time – two lots of 40 minute sessions, if you are using the free version of Zoom, or two hours maximum. This may mean firm chairing, but your group will thank you! Perhaps offer to add on another 40 minutes session at the end for people who want to chat after the session is over.

6. Feedback

Finally, do let us know how you got on, with any suggestions for improvement of these tips!

COP26: A missed opportunity, but scope to build momentum for climate justice

Posted in: Blog, News, Uncategorized

Operation Noah trustee Shilpita Mathews – an environmental economist and official COP26 observer – and Bright Now Campaign Manager James Buchanan share their experiences and reflections from COP26 in Glasgow.

Operation Noah Trustee Shilpita Mathews at COP26 in Glasgow

By Shilpita Mathews and James Buchanan

Like many other climate activists from the UK and around the world, we spent several days in Glasgow during COP26, participating in events and praying and acting for climate justice, especially for the vulnerable communities most affected by the climate crisis here and now.

Shilpita spent a week in the Blue Zone (where official COP26 negotiations took place) with the Christian Climate Observer Program (CCOP), while James represented Operation Noah as a panellist at various events, spent time with a group of ‘Pilgrimage2Paris’ pilgrims and organised a webinar with faith partners from across the global divestment movement.

Life in the Blue Zone (Shilpita Mathews)

Climate change is a spiritual issue: My COP26 highlights included meeting former US Vice President Al Gore and his daughter Karenna Gore (Director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York) as part of the Christian Climate Observer Program (CCOP). The Gores listened to our climate journeys, shared their experiences and gave advice on connecting faith with climate action. One thing that resonated between this and the talk by Bill Mckibben (see below) was the need for recognising the climate crisis as a moral, ethical and spiritual issue reflecting a crisis within our hearts, one that is manifested in environmental injustices. 

Transition is inevitable, justice is not: This phrase resonated from negotiation rooms, to climate marches, to talks by campaigners, to CEO presentations. Despite this, COP26 was a microcosm of larger global injustices. In the Blue Zone, after shadowing the Renew our World campaign for a day, I saw first-hand the rejection indigenous communities received behind closed doors, or how representatives from developing countries were often excluded from discussions on topics most important to them, like loss and damage. 

We need to build bridges during a time of crisis: It was very encouraging to spend time with Operation Noah partners at the COP26 Climate Sunday stall in the Green Zone, and to celebrate all of the successes to date. I was particularly inspired by ambitious ecumenical and interfaith climate action at COP26, which was on display at numerous events. In fact, if people of faith, who represent more than 80% of the world’s population, came together, a just transition to limit global average temperature rises to 1.5°C could become a reality.

Shilpita Mathews (front row, far left) with members of the Climate Sunday coalition: a group of over 30 Christian charities and most UK denominations.

Finding hope in the road ahead: This was my first COP, and what was most overwhelming for me was the polarisation between the Blue Zone, where negotiations took place, and the fringes of COP26. This is what Lorna Gold of the Laudato Si’ Movement and FaithInvest calls, ‘a tale of two COPs’. While there have been glimpses of hope, with various Blue Zone leaders meaningfully engaging and representing frontline communities, there is a long road ahead. But what gave me hope was the action across non-governmental communities, from the unity shown amongst faith communities, to commitments made by the private sector and academia, to go beyond what has been agreed.

For more of my reflections, you can watch the videos I made from the Blue Zone at COP26 on the Operation Noah Twitter and Facebook accounts.

On the fringes of COP26 (James Buchanan and Shilpita Mathews)

Some of the most encouraging and prophetic actions took place on the fringes of COP26. One major highlight was joining the final day of the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) Relay to COP26 and the closing service at St George’s Tron, in the centre of Glasgow.

It was an amazing achievement – the result of incredible commitment demonstrated by Christians aged 18-30 to organise the Relay to COP26 from the G7 in Cornwall in June to COP26 in Glasgow at the end of October.

Members of Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) arrive in Glasgow for COP26.

We also had some excellent meetings, both planned and unexpected, with partners, campaigners and supporters, as well as old and new friends. Following a multi-faith vigil in George Square in the centre of Glasgow, we were delighted to meet Jonathan Wittenberg, Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism UK. We also met one of our heroes, Bill McKibben, who co-founded 350.org and initiated the fossil fuel divestment movement, as he delivered a lecture at the University of Glasgow.

James Buchanan and Shilpita Mathews with writer and activist Bill McKibben (centre), founder of the global divestment movement and of the environmental charity, 350.org.

Reflections on our COP26 event: Fossil Fuel Divestment, Climate Justice and a Just Transition for All (James Buchanan)

Operation Noah’s main event at COP26 took place on Monday 8 November and was organised in partnership with Laudato Si’ Movement, Green Anglicans, World Council of Churches, GreenFaith, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Tearfund, SCIAF and Eco-congregation Scotland. The event was entitled, Fossil Fuel Divestment, Climate Justice and a Just Transition for All.

The panel of speakers included Lorna Gold (Chair of Laudato Si’ Movement), Mark Campanale (Founder and Executive Chair of Carbon Tracker), Rt Revd Olivia Graham (Bishop of Reading), Pastor Ray Minniecon (Australian indigenous Anglican pastor) and Sally Foster Fulton (Head of Christian Aid Scotland). I also joined the speaker panel.

The event included several inspiring and challenging contributions, especially from Pastor Ray Minniecon. Lorna Gold, Chair of Laudato Si’ Movement, wrote about the event: ‘Everyone should watch this – from start to end. Most honest and uncomfortable event I attended at COP26.’

COP26 conclusions: A missed opportunity, but scope to build momentum in 2022

The world needs to phase out of all types of fossil fuels: The outcomes of COP26 have been widely covered in the media, with much of the focus being on the last-minute proposal from India and China to ‘phase down’ rather than ‘phase out’ coal. Yet the world needs to phase out oil and gas too, not only coal – starting with the wealthiest nations that have contributed most to the climate crisis. Furthermore, the US and China had already agreed to the ‘phase down’ wording in a joint agreement issued days before.

There has been less attention given to the hugely disappointing announcement days before COP26 that the $100 billion in climate finance promised to developing countries would not be met until 2023, despite the wealthiest nations having pledged at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009 to meet the target by 2020. This is an abdication of moral responsibility and did little to build trust with nations most affected by the climate crisis. Many of these countries said that they would reluctantly sign the Glasgow Climate Pact, in spite of inadequate financing for loss and damage.

One of the most positive developments during COP26 was the launch of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, an alliance launched by Denmark and Costa Rica to phase out oil and gas production. Among the countries to sign up were France, Ireland, Portugal and Sweden, as well as Wales, Quebec and Greenland. The group has committed to setting an end date for oil and gas extraction.

The time is now for Churches to divest from fossil fuels and invest in climate solutions

There has never been a more important time to call on UK Churches to divest from fossil fuel companies and invest in climate solutions, such as renewable energy. This will send a clear signal to our governments – here in the UK and around the world – about the urgent need to move beyond fossil fuels and rapidly cut emissions.

There are signs that the pressure is working. Just days after COP26, Nicola Sturgeon spoke out against the new Cambo oil field off the west coast of Scotland. The Cambo oil field, led by Shell and Siccar Point Energy, would lead to emissions equivalent to the annual carbon pollution from 18 coal-fired power stations. If the UK government is to act with integrity and retain any credibility following COP26, it must bring an immediate end to new oil and gas projects, starting with Cambo.

In 2022, Operation Noah’s Bright Now campaign will continue calling on UK Churches – including the Church of England, the Scottish Episcopal Church and Catholic and CofE dioceses – to join the vast majority of UK Churches in divesting from fossil fuel companies. We will continue our collaboration with partners around the world and seek to amplify voices from the global South, including indigenous communities, especially ahead of the Lambeth Conference that begins in July 2022.

How you can respond

Thank you to all of you who have supported Operation Noah and our Bright Now campaign in 2021. We are grateful for your support as we continue the campaign for fossil free Churches and investment in climate solutions in 2022! Here are three practical ways to respond: 

Divest your church with Operation Noah’s Bright Now campaign: Read our reflections on what COP26 means for Church investments in fossil fuel companies on the Bright Now website.

Donate to Operation Noah: Find out more about making a donation or give regularly to support Operation Noah’s work.

Apply for new roles at Operation Noah: Finally, watch this space for exciting developments as we scale up our work on investment in climate solutions and nature-based solutions! We are currently recruiting for a new Bright Now Campaign Manager and Bright Now Campaign Officer to join our growing team. You can find out more about both of the roles and how to apply here.

Climate change and failing to preach Christ crucified

Posted in: Blog

The Revd Dr Darrell D Hannah, Rector of All Saints Church, Ascot, and Chair of Operation Noah’s Board of Trustees, urges The Tron Church in Glasgow to re-consider its opposition to preaching ‘climate change’.

Into my email inbox this afternoon arrived the daily news summary, from a Christian perspective, collected and edited by the good people at Premier Christian Radio. I often glance at the headlines without taking time to read any of them, but today one headline caught my eye and my immediate concern: “Putting the gospel before climate change.”

Scrolling down I found the article, an opinion piece entitled, “The Church must preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not climate change”. The Tron Church in Glasgow had hung a banner outside its building which read, “The world’s most urgent need is churches preaching Christ crucified, not climate change.” The opinion piece, authored by the Tron Church’s senior pastor, Revd Dr William Philip, was apparently written to defend the banner.

The article assumes that preaching Christ crucified and “preaching climate change” are two different things. As a preacher who seeks, Sunday by Sunday, to preach “Christ and him crucified”, and who is convinced that climate change is causing the crisis of our age, I was struck by the unnecessary and illogical polarity of this assumption.

I am sure Dr Philip would agree with me that Christ died for our sins, that Christ went to the cross because of human selfishness and greed and because of the human tendency to choose love of self over love of God and love of others. I would hope that after a moment’s reflection, he might also recognise that it is just these things, selfishness, greed and love of self, that also drive the consumerism and the reckless exploitation of the world’s resources and threaten the very survival of future generations.

At one point, Dr Philip asserts (in all caps), “THE MOST URGENT NEED IS FOR THE WORLD TO REALISE THAT ITS PRIORITIES ARE ALL WRONG.” I cannot imagine that many climate activists would disagree. In fact, many would respond with a hearty “Amen!” It is just those misplaced priorities which impedes governments, corporations and individuals from changing direction, even when they admit that our current direction will lead to disaster. And it is just those immoral and sinful priorities which led Jesus to Golgotha.

Later in the article, Dr Philip conjectures that if Jesus were to produce a banner for COP 26, it might display his saying recorded in Luke 12:56: “You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”

While he does not fully spell out his reasoning, it is difficult not to suspect that Dr Philip here alludes to his belief that we are living in the last days; the climate crisis would then be one of the “birth-pangs” of the Age to Come mentioned by Jesus in the Gospels (Mark 13.8; Matt. 24.8). If climate science is correct, Dr Philip may well be proven right. If humans do not change direction, we will succeed in making the world uninhabitable for humans, as well as for many species of the animal and plant kingdoms.

If this were to happen, I cannot see how the promises of Jesus and the apostles could remain true if the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead and the Final Judgement did not immediately follow such an ecological disaster. While we are encouraged in Scripture to “hasten that Day” (2 Peter 3.12), I cannot believe the Apostle Peter meant that we should do so by continuing to treat God’s world as if it is ours to pollute and exploit and consume at will.

When the day of judgement comes, we will be answerable to God for how we have used, and misused, His world, and for the consequences of our actions on our neighbours—regardless of whether that day is near or far off. But if it is near, we dare not put off addressing how we as humanity and as Christians contribute, and continue to contribute, to the climate crisis by our unchristian life styles.

In short, to preach Christ crucified in this day and at this hour necessitates that we call attention to the climate crisis and our part in creating it. And to fail to “preach climate change” is to fail to preach Christ crucified.

Revd Dr Darrell D Hannah is the Rector of All Saints, Ascot, and the Chair of Operation Noah. An American, Darrell moved to the UK in 1992 to pursue a doctorate at the University of Cambridge in Christian Origins and has lived here ever since. He moved into full-time parish ministry in 2008 after academic posts at the universities of Sheffield, Birmingham and Oxford. When time allows, Darrell continues to write and publish in the areas of Second Temple Judaism, the New Testament and early Christianity.

‘A new era of economic colonialism by fossil fuel companies’

Posted in: Blog

Canon Dr Rachel Mash co-authored this powerful resolution, which this month is being put before the All Africa Conference of Churches and the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa for endorsement. Rachel is the environmental coordinator for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, and was recently awarded the Cross of St Augustine by the Archbishop of Canterbury for her environmental work across the Anglican Communion.

Africa, our home, is a continent of spectacular beauty and abundance. It still has remnants of its unique and priceless wildlife in areas of great variety, biodiversity, and wonder. The land has deep rooted cultural and traditional significance and 80% of the Continent’s people depend on small scale farmers for their food.

A new era of economic colonialism by fossil fuel companies is well underway. This is supported by self-serving governments. They are enticed by the promise of job creation and finance for ‘development’ while ignoring the harsh reality of the climate crisis, the ravages of which are being felt across the Continent. Biodiversity loss, exacerbated by catastrophic climate change will have dire consequences for all life on this planet and Africa will be severely affected.

Africa’s natural habitats are being destroyed at an alarming rate through the extraction of oil and gas, with many new projects in the pipeline. Known in Nigeria as the curse of “black gold”, fossil fuel extraction is polluting the water and the land. Oil companies are abusing the rights of indigenous and rural people and forcing them off their land. Oil and gas exploration and exploitation are leading to political destabilisation and increased violence.

The choices we make now will determine the future of Africa. We face species extinction, widespread disease, life-threatening temperature extremes, droughts, ecosystem collapse, and rising sea levels, floods, storms, and wildfires, unless there is transformational change by individuals, communities, businesses, institutions, and governments.

Africa is a continent richly blessed with sun and wind. Investment in renewable energy, now the cheapest form of energy worldwide, will create far more jobs and long-term savings. Renewable energy will be generated without the health-damaging pollutants of fossil fuels or global warming that will push the world past a catastrophic 1.5°C increase in temperature. The declining worldwide demand for fossil fuels will also leave Africa with a legacy of stranded assets.

Yet rather than halting fossil fuel extraction, many governments are actively encouraging exploration for oil and gas reserves by foreign companies. This, despite each country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and their promise to formulate nationally determined contributions (NDC) of climate changing emissions.

Across the continent, foreign companies, supported by African governments, are putting profit before planet:

ReconAfrica, a Canadian oil and gas company, is drilling for oil and gas in the Kavango Basin in north-east Namibia. The company’s 25-year production licence covers over 34,000 square kilometres. Major oil extraction threatens scarce water supplies and is likely to cause widespread ecological destruction to the Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It would also disrupt traditional livelihoods and displace indigenous communities.

The Virunga National Park in the DRC is a ‘protected’ UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has a wealth of biodiversity but is threatened with oil exploration. UNESCO has appealed to the DRC government to cancel all oil exploration permits and focus rather on longer term sustainable development opportunities.

The plan to build a heated pipeline that will carry crude oil from western Uganda through Tanzania to the Indian Ocean, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), will damage fragile ecosystems and displace families from their land. The Ugandan and Tanzanian Governments, the French oil company Total, and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) have partnered in this agreement.

Multiple foreign corporations (including Total) have invested in the offshore gas reserves of northern Mozambique. In spite of promises, the vast development has not benefitted local communities. People are losing their ancestral land and culture. Many young men have joined the Al-Shabab insurgency group making brutal attacks. Nearly 900,000 people have been internally displaced due to the violence. The Quirimbas National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, will also be exposed to the impacts of dredging, waste disposal and construction.

As people of faith, we believe we have been given responsibility to care for, protect and preserve Africa’s magnificent creation.

The Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa call for:

• The immediate cessation of fossil fuel exploration across Africa.

• The application of effective climate justice so that countries of Africa, disproportionately affected by climate change, may be enabled to leapfrog the polluting fossil fuel era into the clean renewable energy era.

• An end to bribery and corruption by foreigners and multi-national companies to secure contracts from political leaders, with disastrous consequences for local communities.

• A decisive and determined shift by governments to embrace a transition to a renewable energy future with its enormous job creation potential so that people and planet may breathe and thrive.

• The recognition of Ecocide as a crime in national and international law. Ecocide is causing irreparable damage and destruction to ecosystems and harming the health and wellbeing of species, including humans.

Divest the Church of England: Listening Campaign & Online Training Sessions

Posted in: Blog

This autumn, Operation Noah are launching a national listening campaign around the Church of England’s fossil fuel investments, and we’re inviting you to join us for one of two online training sessions in October to learn how to lead a discussion in your church, parish or local community with people who might be interested in this issue.

Join us for a free, 1-hour training session on Zoom on either Tuesday 12 October 2021 at 7pm, or on Thursday 14 October 2021 at 7pm, by registering here.

A listening campaign is a series of listening meetings or gatherings where people discuss an issue of mutual concern and ultimately decide what they want to do about it. In this campaign, we’re training leaders to lead discussions with groups of 6-12 people (either in-person or on Zoom) about the Church of England’s fossil fuel investments – not only the national Church’s investments, which total £55 million, but also fossil fuel investments that individual Church of England dioceses still hold.

The purpose of any listening meeting is to hear how people feel about the issue, to share stories about how the issue impacts people’s lives, and to explore what, if anything, people want to do to change the situation.  

Listening meetings help campaigns identify new leaders, empower people to take action on the things that matter to them, and help bring to the surface compelling stories that can be used to speak truth to power.

If you would like to take a look at the resources we’ve developed for this campaign, including a meeting script and PowerPoint presentation on the Church of England’s fossil fuel investments, you can download them below.

Resister now for one of our October training sessions and get involved!

The Year We Broke Our Climate

Posted in: Blog

By Bill McGuire

This summer our world has been battered like never before by extreme weather. North America has sweltered in temperatures that peaked at a staggering 54.4C, while an area the size of Lebanon, along with thousands of homes, has been incinerated by wildfires that continue to rage across many states. Temperature records were smashed in Europe, with 48.8°C registered in Sicily and 47.2C in southern Spain as, further north, devastating flash floods took more than 220 lives in Germany and Belgium.

Wildfires have rampaged out of control across Greece and Turkey, while unprecedented rainfall and flooding has left a trail of destruction and loss of life across Turkey, China, Japan, India and parts of the United States. In Siberia, the tundra is in flames, pumping out huge volumes of carbon dioxide. Probably most disturbingly – for the first time ever recorded – rain has fallen on the highest point of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

The truth is that our climate is broken, and this is what it looks like. As the world continues to heat up in response to the 40 billion or so tonnes of carbon dioxide pumped out by human activities every year, things can only get worse.

So far, the average global temperature has climbed around  1.1°C since pre-industrial times, but we are on track to more than double this in the decades to come, unless we take urgent action now. Should the worst-case forecasts come to pass, temperatures could be 4 – 5°C higher by the century’s end, bringing an existential threat to our civilisation.

There is now nowhere to hide from our plight. Well-timed to coincide with the increasingly extreme weather we can see all around us, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just published its scariest report yet. While the previous five climate assessment reports have been conservative and consensus-based, this latest pulls few punches. In a nutshell, it concludes that the global average temperature rise will breach both the 1.5C and 2C ‘guardrails’, unless there are deep cuts to emissions in coming decades. As this is extremely unlikely, we have to face the fact that we are now committed to dangerous, all-pervasive climate change.

The bottom line, then, is that we are in dire straits. We know that, whatever we do, the world our children will grow old in, and our grandchildren grow up in, will be hotter, increasingly unpredictable, and more dangerous than the one we have become used to. We have a duty, therefore, to do everything in our power to stop the situation getting even worse. This means, more than anything else, stopping the extraction and use of fossil fuels as soon as possible. 

Lloyd’s of London, the world’s biggest insurance market, has announced that it will set a market-wide policy to stop new insurance cover for coal, oil sands and Arctic energy projects in just 16 months time. It will also phase out existing policies for all fossil-fuel related projects by 2030, pulling out of the sector entirely by this date.

This is a major and most welcome decision. No investor is going to risk large amounts of dosh in a project with no insurance cover. But, in terms of climate breakdown, 2030 is a lifetime away. On the basis of current trends, we will have pumped into the atmosphere a further 360 or more billion tonnes by this date, likely pushing the global average temperature rise beyond the 1.5C guardrail.

So, we need to do more now, in particular to cut another fossil fuel corporation lifeline – investment. Without money to develop and exploit further reserves, the industry will wither on the branch and die. In recent years, the movement to disinvest – to starve fossil fuel companies of the oxygen of money – has grown hugely, and institutions controlling more than USD14 trillion have wholly or partly withdrawn funds. But there remain many more institutions with investments in the sector who have failed to do so. One of these is the Church of England. This is wrong.

More than any other institution, the Church should be setting an example for others – Christian or not – to follow. Unfortunately, it still has a long way to go. Currently, the Church of England has committed to disinvesting from fossil fuel companies by the end of 2023, but only if companies are not prepared to align their plans with the 2015 Paris Climate Accord and a zero carbon future. This, however, is simply not good enough. There is absolutely no way a corporation whose product is burnt to produce carbon can ever meet these goals, whatever words they may utter in public.

The height of a climate emergency is not the time for provisos and conditions. The Church of England must act to disinvest from all fossil fuel companies. And it must do so now. Furthermore, individual churches also need to urgently evaluate any links they might have with the fossil fuel sector, and cut them as soon as they can. You can find out more about how to do this by joining Operation Noah’s BrightNow: towards fossil-free churches campaign, and I urge you to do so immediately.

There is simply no time to waste.

Our world stands on the edge of climate catastrophe. We know now that things will be bad, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up. There is still time to limit the consequences of global heating and climate breakdown, but we need to act immediately. Any  failure to do so now will commit our children and their children to life on a deadly hothouse planet sweltering beneath carbon-soaked skies.

Bill McGuire is Professor Emeritus of Geophysical & Climate Hazards at UCL, and was a contributor to the 2012 IPCC SREX report on climate change and extreme events. His novel, SKYSEED – an eco-thriller about climate engineering gone wrong – is published by The Book Guild. 

My Week Walking the YCCN Relay/ Pilgrimage for Climate Justice

Posted in: Blog

By Hannah Eves

Just over a week ago, I stepped away from the home working desk, put my walking boots on and with a stomach-churning mixture of trepidation and excitement set off, with the relay flag in hand, to begin walking on the Young Christian Climate Network’s relay pilgrimage to the UN Climate Summit COP26

I led the London to Oxford section, walking for seven days, covering just under 80 miles, rambling across the countryside with people from different church traditions and creeds, in the name of climate justice. We stopped in sacred places along the way for hospitality, prayer and encouragement; we slept on church floors, shared a meal at a Quaker meeting house, and were hosted at the traditional pilgrim’s stop of St Alban’s Cathedral.

Our walking kept us grounded, the rhythm of putting a foot in front of another for hours, but we were also grounded in prayer, in fellowship, and in our belief in the urgency of the climate crisis. As I walked out of London, the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report was published. The findings which hit the headlines that day were clear and harrowing: with every year of inaction, the hope of staying under 1.5 degrees (over pre-industrial levels) is slipping away and the effects will have a catastrophic impact globally, especially on the most climate-vulnerable countries, which also have the lowest emissions.

This is why we’re walking, because the climate crisis is at its core a justice issue. Our sisters and brothers overseas in climate-vulnerable countries are losing their homes and livelihoods, and we walk in solidarity with them. No country should be forced to go into debt because of climate change, and having COP26 on our doorstep is a unique opportunity for the church to challenge the UK government to take the lead on addressing this injustice.

We believe that fair climate financing is absolutely essential to this, and this is embedded in our four asks to the UK government ahead of COP26. We are asking leaders to, first of all, reinstate the aid budget to pre-Covid levels so that climate-vulnerable countries can tackle the effects of global heating, such as food insecurity, disease burden and displacement of peoples.

Second, to honour, and also double, the commitment made over ten years ago by rich countries to provide $100 billion in climate financing to help vulnerable countries to build resilience to climate change effects, protect their natural spaces, reduce greenhouse gases and move towards Net Zero.

Third, to lead on developing an international mechanism for addressing climate-induced loss and damage. This refers to the effects of climate change, which are inevitable and will continue to cause devastating damage to communities and livelihoods globally. There is currently no agreement on how to help the countries who have done the least to cause these effects.

Finally, we are asking the government to push for debt cancellation so that climate-vulnerable countries have the resources to confront the climate crisis. When climate disasters hit the poorest and most vulnerable countries, the cost of loss, damage and rebuilding often ends up pushing these countries further into debt, which is profoundly unjust. 

This is why we’re walking, in the name of climate justice, and to tell the government that we will not sit by while this injustice goes on. 

Following in the steps of our foremothers and forefathers in the tradition of pilgrimage, we also walk in faith. Pilgrims often end at sacred places, such as on the Camino de Santiago when pilgrims traditionally crawl, in reverence, into the cathedral at Santiago to complete their journey.

Is COP26 a sacred place? There is something that feels powerful and sacred in turning with prayer and hope towards that place, to Glasgow, and to our leaders, with our global sisters and brothers in our hearts.

We have many miles to go before we get to Glasgow and we’re still looking for walkers and volunteers of all ages to support the relay, so go to YCCN’s website to get involved. You can also make a difference by writing to your MP about climate justice; visit yccn.uk/political-engagement to find out more.

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