Westminster Justice and Peace sign Church Leaders Letter on Cumbrian Coal Mine

Fr Dominic Robinson SJ (Chair) and Colette Joyce (Co-ordinator) join Bishop John Arnold (Environment Spokesman for the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales) in signing an open letter to PM Rishi Sunak to withdraw approval for the Cumbrian coal mine and honour the Paris Agreement to reduce fossil fuels.

Report

Source: Operation Noah

More than 450 Church leaders and Christian environmental campaigners have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Secretary of State Michael Gove, calling on the UK Government to rethink its approval of a new coal mine in Cumbria, which received the go-ahead last week but threatens the goal of limiting global heating to 1.5ºC.

The letter states: ‘We acknowledge that this region needs investment, but the Government is supporting a dying industry instead of securing sustainable green jobs for the long term. We know that every pound of investment in renewables creates three times more jobs than in the fossil fuel industry. Coal from this mine will continue to heat up the planet, pollute the atmosphere, and most severely impact those in the world’s poorest countries who have done the least to cause the climate crisis. We lament this great injustice.’

Coordinated by Young Christian Climate Network and supported by Operation Noah and Christian Aid, the letter has been endorsed by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, by the lead environmental bishops for the Church of England and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (Bishop Graham Usher and Bishop John Arnold) and by the heads of the Church in Wales, the Methodist Church of Great Britain, the United Reformed Church, the Salvation Army, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Undeb yr Annibynwyr/Union of Welsh Independent Churches, Quakers in Britain and the Scottish Episcopal Church. Clergy and members of other Christian denominations have also signed the letter.

Last year, the International Energy Agency said there could be no new fossil fuel developments anywhere in the world if global heating were to be limited to 1.5ºC – the internationally agreed upon goal – while research from Carbon Tracker has found that 90% of fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground as unburnable carbon in order to limit global heating to 1.5ºC.

The open letter from Church leaders and campaigners quotes a 2018 lecture that Michael Gove gave to the Christian think tank Theos in which he said, ‘Christians are called to remember their rightful place within Creation – and the vast web of life it created – and their responsibility to protect and defend it.’ The letter states, ‘we urge the UK government to practise what (Gove) preached by keeping coal in the ground and investing in a sustainable future.’

Bishop John Arnold, Bishop of Salford, Lead Bishop on the Environment for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said: “Despite a government commitment to phase out coal-mining, in spite of the possibilities of creating jobs in renewable energy production in Cumbria, despite the fact that UK steel producers will not use this type of coal, the government is permitting the opening of a new mine. While illogical, it is a blatant contribution to further climate damage at a time when the Prime Minister has recently stated, at COP27, that the UK is taking a lead in environmental care”.

Dr Chris Manktelow, Campaigns Lead for the Young Christian Climate Network said: “As young people who want a better future for everyone living on this planet, we were deeply concerned about the approval of the first coal mine in the UK for thirty years. We felt that church and Christian leaders needed to speak out against this decision. We hope that the government will listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor and consider the consequences of its actions.’

Revd Dr Darrell Hannah, Chair of Operation Noah and Rector of All Saints Church, Ascot commented: “Opening a coal mine when the world must cut greenhouse gas emissions almost in half by 2030 is arguably the least conservative thing this Conservative Government could do. Not only does it threaten the international goal of limiting global heating to 1.5ºC, and thus make some of the more dangerous impacts of global heating more likely, but it is an economically disastrous policy that short-changes an area of the country that needs investment.”

“The coal industry worldwide is moving away from the type of coking coal the Cumbria mine will produce. Moreover, according to the UN, every pound of investment in renewables creates three times more jobs than in the fossil fuel industry. The people of Cumbria deserve more than this desperate gambit to extract the most polluting of all fossil fuels at the very time the world is rapidly transitioning to renewables. We should be investing in the jobs of the future, not the jobs of the past – jobs which will soon be gone.”

Sophie Powell, UK Advocacy Lea at Christian Aid said: “The UK Government is trashing the legacy of its own COP26 climate summit in Glasgow which claimed to mark the end of the era of coal just 12 months ago. Almost all the coal from this new mine will be exported, not used in the UK. The Government will be propping up the coal industry, exacerbating the climate crisis and causing more suffering to people already struggling to cope with worsening droughts, storms and floods.”

Read the full letter with list of signatories here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10X4svQkjEJih6OqR1ZXKJIltF480Nxry99HQRu4Gvnk/edit

Report from Southern Dioceses Environment Network Meeting, 12th December 2022

Feedback on COP27, Advent and Planning for 2023

Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy and Communications at CAFOD, gives feedback from COP27 which he attended as a delegate of the Holy See

Presentation by Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy and Communications, CAFOD

Neil was a delegate for the Holy See (the Vatican) to COP26 and COP27. He told us that what was different about COP27 was that the Holy See had acceded to the Paris Agreement (2015) and so are now a party to the COP for the first time (as a State). This happened toward the end of October 2022 and it is worth noting that signing up comes with difficulties and challenges. It requires commitment. Preparation was minimal in terms of time, so the Vatican was not able to prepare this time in the way they probably will in future.

COPs have a direct impact influence on countries’ economies and policies, unlike e.g. The Sustainability Goals, which are voluntary. There are accountability and transparency mechanisms which is vital for the principles behind the COP and the impact it will have moving forward. What happens at COP matters because it has to be taken back to countries domestically.

The fault lines are clear between the countries that caused the climate crisis through historic emissions (UK, US, France, Germany etc.) and those that didn’t (Saudi Arabia, China, Brazil, India etc.) The common, yet differentiated, responsibilities between the two groups are held by some as a matter of principle and have political consequences.

At a COP there are actual negotiations and political signals (found primarily in the cover text).

THE GOOD

  • The cover text included food, rivers, nature-based solutions and right to a healthy environment for the first time.
  • Innovative financing options were part of the discussions and included in the cover text.
  • Negotiating streams dealt with:
  • Averting the climate crisis (mitigation) 
  • Minimising the harm from climate change (adaptation) 
  • Addressing the harm already done (loss and damage) 
  • A fund for loss and damage (compensation) has been agreed in principle and a transition group has been set up to work out the detail of how this is to be done.
  • Excellent expert report presented on reaching net zero and calling out greenwashing.
  • Sharm El-Sheikh Programme of Work established to take forward issues on food.

COP27 could have been worse – the first pavilion was a HUGE Saudi Arabian pavilion. Egypt was the president of COP27 and this first pavilion told a story of the influence the Saudi Arabians had on them.

THE BAD

Best expressed by Alok Sharma (UK COP26 President) in his closing remarks at COP27:


“Emissions peaking before 2025, as the science tells us is necessary.

Not in this text.

Clear follow-through on the phase down of coal.

Not in this text.

A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels.

Not in this text.

And the energy text, weakened, in the final minutes.

Friends, I said in Glasgow that the pulse of 1.5 degrees was weak.

Unfortunately, it remains on life support.”

Alok Sharma, COP27, Closing Remarks
  • The Climate crisis continues to hit people hard and fast.
  • The influence of fossil fuels companies took over.
  • No strengthening of 1.5 targets or phasing out fossil fuels, even though UK government strong stance on these negotiations. 
  • Climate finance – targets still not met from 2009 – big disappointment.
  • From CAFOD and Holy See point of view – disappointment with the narrow, productionist, approach to food systems. Nature/people outlook didn’t get a look in.

CAFOD, Holy See, and the Future 

The Holy See made a number of interventions.

  • Pressed for a comprehensive view of food systems, as found in Laudato Si’.
  • https://twitter.com/CAFOD/status/1592434466479542272 
  • Asked for separate financial mechanism for loss and damage. Taken notice of by other states. Thanked by the small island states for doing it.
  • Positive as a Catholic family for our voice to be heard.
  • In the build-up CAFOD had done work with partners. African Climate Dialogues. Brought partner voices into the COP.
  • Hope to be stronger and better prepared for the next COP. Early preparation is important.
  • It is important for us to think about pushing the UK Government.
  • We need to push on loss and damage, the food system as a national discussion (also the next CAFOD campaign.)

Q & A:  

  • What is the best way to push the UK government? Contacting MPs and being consistent is strong and don’t be afraid to send evidence. The more who speak the better – especially if they are Conservative. 
  • How does the work of the Holy See filter down through the Diocese level? If only – Being a part of the Holy See is seen as a government. A report will be done for the Bishops Conference of England and Wales by Neil Thorns and a suggestion has been made that the Holy See themselves do this but it is not simple. 
  • Was there a presence of other faiths? There are various groups recognised such as Indigenous groups, there is a strong representation of faith groups which is great to see. 
  • How influential are the side groups? Not one answer to this but if you see COP in the two ways – political/negotiating but then also the conversation that happens outside such as deals and agreements making traction.  
  • Has there been writing following COP27? Formal writing is not shared from my knowledge. Church globally sees this as important enough to take action – Bishops/Cardinals can be asked how we are translating the Paris agreement into our local realities. A bottom-up approach. 

Question: What is your response to Neil’s presentation? Where do you think we are now and what do you think will be important in 2023? 

Next Southern Dioceses Environment Network Meetings

Monday, 9 January  2023, 12.45-2.00pm  – Joint meeting

To start the year, the Northern Dioceses Environment Group and Southern Dioceses Environment Network will be meeting together to reflect on the challenges that lie ahead in 2023.

The meeting will hear from the Diocese of Salford that has been carrying out extensive surveys of all parish and diocesan buildings to develop a decarbonisation pathway and to help prioritise decarbonisation projects.

We will also get an update on the Guardians of Creation initiative with a focus on the engaging parishioners in the ‘ecological conversion’ we all need to make if we are to respond with urgency to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

Monday          13 Feb             12.45-2.00pm            
Monday          13 March        12.45-2.00pm            

Monday          15 May            12.45-2.00pm         
Monday          12 June           12.45-2.00pm

Monday          10 July            12.45-2.00pm            
Monday          11 Sept           12.45-2.00pm

Monday          9 Oct               12.45-2.00pm
Monday          13 Nov            12.45-2.00p
m
Monday          11 Dec             12.45-2.00pm

KEY CLIMATE DATES
LINKS TO EVENTS & ORGANISATIONS

Resources

Journey to 2030 Updates:

‘Let Us Dream’ Activity Workshops

Advent resources to try and let us know your thoughts

New Journey to 2030 School Page

From the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW):

Bishops Conference Environment Resolutions – Autumn 2022

Bishop John’s Podcast on ‘Call of Creation’

Revised document: ‘Call of Creation’ (October 2022)

Advent with Jesuit Missions: 17-24 December: ‘See Beyond the Headlines’ – Sign up or login to help create a more just world this Christmas.

COP27 Global Day of Action, London Mobilisation Report

Westminster Justice and Peace at the Global Day of Action, The Strand, London for COP27, 12th November 2022

COP27 GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION MOBILISATION, SATURDAY 12TH NOVEMBER, 11.30AM, LONDON

Westminster Justice & Peace joined CAFOD, the Southern Dioceses Environment Network, Christian Climate Action, Christian Aid, Tearfund, Quakers, Buddhists, Faith for the Climate and many other civic groups on Saturday 12th November for the Global Day of Action rally in Central London on the middle Saturday of COP27, the UN Climate Conference.

The faith bloc gathered at St John’s Church Waterloo, where they were welcomed by Rev Canon Giles Goddard and prayers were said in the garden, before moving to join a larger crowd outside the head office of oil giant Shell building on the Southbank.

Among these were health workers, scientists and campaigners highlighting the plight of climate refugees. Eco-Sikh called for a ‘Loss and Damage Fund Now’. Then thousands marched to Trafalgar Square for a rally.

Colette Joyce, coordinator of Westminster Justice & Peace Commission, who led the Westminster Justice & Peace group on the march said: “The urgency is growing with each year that passes, and so we can and must keep the pressure on to demand tangible results this time.”

Banners carried by pupils from St George’s Catholic Secondary School, Maida Vale

Report on Independent Catholic News

The State of Our Common Home in the Aftermath of COP27 with Mathew Lawrence, 17th November 2022, 7-8pm

London Jesuit Centre, 114 Mount Street

Speaker: Mathew Lawrence

Venue: London Jesuit Centre

Date: Thursday 17th November, 7.00-8.00pm

COP26 was described by commentators and political leaders as the ‘last chance saloon’ for global leaders to develop strategies to tackle the problem of climate change. A year on, the world is convulsed by the aftermath of Covid, economic instability and the war in Ukraine. Climate change has slipped down the agenda. Major nations have failed to live up to the obligations made at Cop26 last year and the $100 billion of climate finance which developed nations promised at 2009 would begin in 2020, has been postponed until next year. All the while, the catastrophic affects of climate change are becoming more and more visible in Pakistan, Sudan, California and even here in the UK.

Mathew Lawrence is the founder and Director of Common Wealth, a UK-based think tank that designs ownership models for a democratic and sustainable economy. His recent book Planet On Fire, is subtitled ‘a manifesto for the age of environmental breakdown.’ He will join the Jesuit Centre’s Laudato Si’ Champion – Aidan Cottrell-Boyce – to analyse the outcomes of Cop27. He will discuss future directions which policy-makers should be taking to create a more sustainable economy and will offer advice for ‘all people of good will’ on how best to participate as citizens in this ongoing defence of our common home.

Book with London Jesuit Centre

Suggested Contribution £10

PRAYER FOR THE COP27 CLIMATE SUMMIT

God of blessings,
the universe sings of your glory.
Deepen our gratitude for all you have made
and awaken in us a renewed commitment
to care for the earth and each other.
Inspire world leaders at COP27,
with openness to listen to those most affected by climate change
and with courage to act urgently and wisely,
so that our common home may be healed and restored
and all people, and generations to come, may delight in it.
Amen.

CAFOD

Links

Find out more about COP27

Global Day of Action for the Climate – 12th November 11.30am, London

Southern Dioceses Environment Network – 14th November, 12.45pm, Online

UPDATE – COP27 GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION MOBILISATION, SATURDAY 12TH NOVEMBER, 11.30AM, LONDON

Join CAFOD, Westminster Justice & Peace, the Southern Dioceses Environment Network and other Catholic groups in the Faith Bloc for this Global Day of Action rally in Central London on the middle Saturday of COP27, the UN Climate Conference.

LOCATION

Starting Location: St John’s Church, Waterloo, SE1 8TY

Date: Saturday, 12th November 2022, 11.30am

We will be meeting at 11:30am outside St John’s Church, Waterloo, for prayers from different faith traditions, before joining the main march outside the Shell building on the South Bank, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 7NA, at noon. The march route ends at Trafalgar Square, where there will be a rally from 2:30 until around 4pm.

Register with CAFOD to let us know you will be joining us on the day

Contact Colette Joyce if you would like to walk with Westminster Justice & Peace – colettejoyce@rcdow.org.uk / 07593 434905

Bring your own home-made banners or signs or use those provided by CAFOD.

CAFOD Supporters at the Global Day of Action for the Climate, Glasgow, 2021, COP26

KEY CLIMATE DATES

COP27 Global Day of Action Mobilisation, Saturday 12th November, 11am, London

CAFOD Supporters at the Global Day of Action for the Climate, Glasgow, 2021, COP26

Join CAFOD, Westminster Justice & Peace, the Southern Dioceses Environment Network and other Catholic groups in the Faith Bloc for this Global Day of Action rally in Central London on the middle Saturday of COP27, the UN Climate Conference, on 12th November 2022.

Location

Starting Location: Shell Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 7NA

Date: Saturday, 12th November 2022, 11.00am

Register with CAFOD to let us know you will be joining us on the day

Key Climate Dates Autumn 2022

22 September – 7 November: Walk2COP27 – Virtual walk from Glasgow to Sharm el-Sheikh organised by Sam Baker. Participants include the Laudato Si’ Animators. Download the App and log your steps in solidarity with others around the world! A virtual townhall meeting takes place in each of the 12 countries en route: Scotland, England, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. https://www.walk2cop27.com/

25 October, 7.30-9.30pm: Catholic People’s Weeks Annual Autumn Online Lecture with Dr Carmody Grey – Living in a Time of Crisis: Christianity and Ecological Catastrophe. Dr Grey is Assistant Professor of Catholic Theology at Durham University and a visiting research fellow at Laudato Si Institute, Oxford. https://catholicpeoplesweeks.org/events/annual-autumn-lecture-2022

29 October, 11am-2.30pm: CAFOD Faith in Action – Online event. Includes updates on transforming our food system campaign and finding out more about COP27. Register in advance

6-18 November – COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt https://cop27.eg/

14 November, 12.45-2.00pm. Southern Dioceses Environment Network. Prayer and reflection for COP27 On Zoom. Book with Eventbrite

5-17 December: COP15 Part 2 (In person) – Montreal, Canada – UN Convention of Biological Diversity  COP15 https://www.cbd.int/cop/

12 December, 12.45-2.00pm. Southern Dioceses Environment Network. Feedback on COP27, Advent and Planning for 2023. On Zoom. Book with Eventbrite

10-18 June 2023Great Big Green Week

Visit our Care of Creation Pages here

Report from the Southern Dioceses Network Meeting 12th September 2022

Southern Dioceses Environment Network 12th September 2022: Presentation by Shanon Shah, Director, Faith for the Climate

We were delighted to welcome Shanon Shah, the Director of Faith for the Climate, as our guest speaker for the first meeting this term of the Southern Dioceses Environment Network.

Faith for the Climate is a network that aims to equip, inspire, and encourage faith inspired action on issues of climate change across the UK. All faiths and spiritualities are welcome.

Shanon Shah is a Malaysian Muslim who came to the UK in 2010. He joined the team at Faith for the Climate in 2020.

The organisation aims to unite those of faith together in the environmental justice space and to encourage learning from the different faith traditions. It was a way to target the UK government and show solidarity with those who suffer the worse impact of climate change despite doing the least to contribute.

The group meet regularly online with two priorities in the lead up to COP-26: new and additional money for loss and damage, ending fossil fuel subsidies. The UK government has made some progress with the second focus, therefore, most energy was focused on loss and damage.

Loss and Damage is part of the architecture of the Paris Agreement which includes three main pillars of climate action; mitigation of climate emissions, adaption to live with the impact of climate change, loss and damage. Loss and damage is when the impact of climate change is so severe that adaption/mitigation is not possible e.g. as a result of sea level rises, extreme weather events.

The UK government has historically blocked negotiations on loss and damage.

At COP-19, in 2013, the Warsaw international mechanism for Loss and damage was established in response to the typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. At COP-25 in Madrid, the Santiago network on loss and damage was established to implement the Warsaw mechanism. It called for richer countries to offer compensation. At COP-26, there was a push for clarity on how the Santiago network would be implemented.

The Glasgow Dialogue on Loss and Damage was established post COP-26. Many questions on how to address the issue are undecided, but it is climbing the agenda with the first awareness day last year. This is largely due to the efforts of faith communities.

The UK has faced financial difficulty this year due to the war in Ukraine, cost of living crisis etc. which has made it more difficult to talk about loss and damage. Despite our own issues we must not forget countries such as Pakistan which is now 1/3 under water with the displacement of 50 million people and 10 billion US dollars’ worth of damage. These poorer countries are suffering the worst effects of climate change despite contributing the least. The impacts of extreme weather events are far greater for them and they are still struggling with debt.

It seems only fair that the big polluters have the most responsibility to pay compensation for loss and damage. It is a moral issue that lies at the centre of many faiths; we are all interconnected.

The next Loss and Damage Awareness Day will be on the 22nd September; including a walk of witness to Parliament Square via the Shell headquarters. Gathering at St. John’s Church, Waterloo, 10.30am. It will join those doing an interfaith fast for loss and damage.

22 September – Loss and Damage Awareness Day
10.30am Meet at St John’s Waterloo, 73 Waterloo Rd, London SE1 8TY
11.30am Walk to the Shell headquarters for a vigil
12.00pm Walk to Parliament Square
Loss and Damage Day of Action London

We then broke into small groups to consider the question: “In what ways does the topic of Loss and Damage resonate with this year’s theme for the Season of Creation – Listen to the Voice of Creation?”

Links

Faith for the Climate
Loss and Damage Day of Action London
Southern Dioceses Environment Network
Key Climate Dates in 2022

The Journey to 2030 website has been revamped with several sections for new resources. Check it out at:

https://journeyto2030.org new homepage
https://journeyto2030.org/let-us-dream/ let us dream activity*
https://journeyto2030.org/getting-started-2/ The new getting started and resources page
https://journeyto2030.org/poster-activity/ – The ‘building a caring community’ activity poster page

*You can order packs of the ‘Let Us Dream’ activity to use with your church group / parish.

The next meeting of the Southern Dioceses Environment Network is on Monday 10th October, 12.45-2.00pm. Register with Eventbrite

Bishop John Arnold: It’s time to sprint towards climate action

Source: Independent Catholic News

The episcopal lead for the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales on the Environment, Bishop John Arnold of Salford, has called for more urgent action on the climate crisis. In a statement on his diocesan website on 23 July, after a record-breaking heatwave in the UK, he said:

“This is not going to just peak and then we’ll hear no more of it. It’s going to get gradually worse. We are warming the globe and we’re not reacting quickly enough to avoid the damage or to even begin to repair the damage that we’ve done. We’ve already been told that some of the damage is irreparable, so we’ve got to think and we’ve got to act. Unfortunately, the government is not fulfilling the promises made at COP26…. The politics of our nation must take full measure of climate change and the climate crisis.

“I know that we’re jogging along, showing an interest in climate change – but jogging is not enough. We’ve got to start sprinting at this stage to make sure that we are caring for our common home and our brothers and sisters.”

He described the recent heatwave as a “wake-up call,” saying, “this week, we’ve witnessed temperatures never before reached here in the UK and, here in our own diocese, temperatures also saw record highs as some parishes nudged 40 degrees and firefighters battled flames in nearby communities.”

Bishop John thanked parishes and schools already working to live more sustainably and campaign for environmental justice. Bishop Arnold invited involvement in the second diocesan Walk for Creation on Sunday 2nd October.

Mass for the Season of Creation at Farm Street Church, Saturday, 3 September 2022, 4pm

Southern Dioceses Environment Network

Resources for the Season of Creation