Environment


Low carbon future for Quakers
The news release below was issued on 5 August last year, and in December 2011 the main policy committee of Quakers in Britain (called Meeting for Sufferings for historical reasons), started the long haul - of turning the commitment below into practical reality.....

Quakers in Britain have today committed their whole movement to becoming a low-carbon, sustainable community. They have always tried to lead simple lives but this decision goes further. It means every Quaker in Britain will be urged and supported to reduce their carbon footprint.

A plan is being drawn up to turn this commitment into action and members have agreed to support each other and hold each other to account to achieve it.

“We can no longer ignore the fact that our planet is finite,” say Quakers. “We have not only inherited the earth from our ancestors: we have borrowed it from our children and from their children.”

More than 1,500 Quakers made the decision while gathered at the University of Kent in Canterbury for their annual Yearly Meeting to discern the way ahead for Quakers in Britain. The eight-day programme for all ages, from 30 July to 6 August, was an inspiring mix of worship, business, spiritual growth and fun.
Recording Clerk Paul Parker said: “We met to grow in the Spirit. We listened to God and we discovered with certainty that what the world needs of us at this time is to change our lives. Our decision is exciting. This involves every child, every adult, every person in our Quaker community.”

The decision is rooted in Quakers’ longstanding work for a peaceful and more equal world. Quakers understand that many global problems are connected: speakers during the week highlighted the fact that the environmental crisis is inextricably linked with global economic injustice. The meeting also decided to challenge the values of consumer capitalism and engage with politicians and other decision makers to develop policies to safeguard people and planet. “We believe this corporate action will enable us to speak truth to power more confidently,” says the minute recording the decision.

The same theme of sustainability and spirituality in challenging times was explored by Pam Lunn, of Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, in the Swarthmore Lecture, traditionally delivered during Quakers’ Yearly Meeting. She said: “We need to take with utter seriousness the place of theology, religion and spirituality as necessary to our human response to the challenges now facing us. People of all faiths have a crucial role to play.” She spoke about Quakers’ practice of spirituality and about the “absolute need for serious and sustained spiritual discipline if we’re to develop the inner resilience to meet the challenges and demands that face us.”


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Climate change: the Kingsnorth trial
On 10 September in a trial by jury, six Greenpeace activists who wrote 'GORDON' on the chimney of Kingsnorth coal-fired power station in Kent, were cleared of the charge that they had caused £30,000 of criminal damage. They argued successfully that their action was legally justified because they were trying to prevent climate change causing much greater damage to property around the world - see the report in the Guardian. Helen Rowlands of Woodbrook Quaker Study Centre said on BBC Radio 4 that the trial could be compared with the famous trial of William Penn which freed juries from control by judges: in both cases the jury of ordinary men and women were persuaded by the arguments, and found against officialdom. At least a Quaker voice was heard on this occasion - even if only about an historical precedent. Hopefully, the verdict will help to persuade the government that public opinion will be strongly against the building of any new coal-fired power station, unless it has an effective mechanism for carbon capture. More direct action by environmentalists is likely.

 

Devon Churches ask for 80% reduction in carbon emissions
On 17 July David Barkla of Exeter Meeting was one of four people from the Devon Churches Climate Change coalition to present a 'petition' at No 10 Downing Street. It asked the government to go for a higher target than the 60% reduction which is at present in the Climate Change Bill - see the Home Page. Alan Ray-Jones, 22 July 2008.