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6 th February 2005
Is your church ready for Kyoto ?
The Kyoto Treaty on climate change becomes international law next week, and churches should be taking steps to meet Britain 's obligations. Operation Noah, the church-led campaign on climate change, has published a Cool Church Toolkit to help them do just that.
By 2012 the UK is required to meet a national target of 12% cuts in emissions on 1995 levels. The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution warns that further measures are needed to cut Britain 's carbon dioxide emissions by a total of 80%. Government commitments include investing in renewable energy and improving the heating efficiency of buildings. However a recent review concluded that these policies will be fail unless consumers take more responsibility for their emissions.
The Prime Minister wants the UK to be seen to be a world leader in longer-term efforts to curb climate change, putting the issue at the top of the agenda for this year's presidencies of the G8 and European Union, alongside African development. Campaigners agree that the two issues are inseparable - a recent report by development and environment agencies, Up in Smoke? , says that international efforts to reduce poverty could be washed away by climate change.
Paul Bodenham, co-ordinator of Operation Noah, commented 'In comparison to the task Britain has now set itself, getting the Kyoto targets agreed was just a curtain-raiser. Britain 's leadership role in the years ahead will have no credibility unless British consumers back it up by reducing their emissions. The harder Tony Blair pushes the international community, the more all of us will be under scrutiny. Now that Kyoto is international law, church councils should arguably be taking the Kyoto Treaty as seriously as they have taken the Disability Discrimination Act.'
The Cool Church Toolkit helps churches to calculate their annual contribution to climate change, and take steps to reduce them.
'Using green electricity and installing low-energy lightbulbs and insulation are not just about doing the right thing and saving money. They are essential to discipleship in the 21 st century,' commented Paul Bodenham.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Operation Noah was launched in October 2004 with the support of the Presidents of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI). It is a project of the Environmental Issues Network of CTBI, conceived and managed by Christian Ecology Link. Further details can be seen at www.christian-ecology.org.uk/noah .
The Cool Church Toolkit
The toolkit, available at www.christian-ecology.org.uk/coolchurch , includes a step-by-step guide for churches to switching to green electricity. It recommends churches to appoint an Energy Manager. It also shows how churches can use energy more efficiently, such as by using low-energy light bulbs, and turning off floodlighting after bedtime.
Even the travel habits of worshippers come under scrutiny. Emissions created by people who drive to church can be greater than those created by the church's heating and lighting. The guide recommends that churches set up car-sharing schemes and install bicycle racks.
Up in Smoke is available from http://www.neweconomics.org/gen/z_sys_PublicationDetail.aspx?pid=196
Church of England General Synod
Synod will be holding a debate on the environment on 17 th February.
The Kyoto Treaty
The UN agreed a framework for negotiations to curb greenhouse gas emissions in 1992. It took until 1997 for the Kyoto Protocol to emerge, and it had languished since then while national governments debated ratifying it. The final signatures were secured from Russia in autumn 2004.
Recent Government figures show that the UK 's emissions are rising. Experts say that a voluntary domestic target to reduce them by 20% by 2010 is certain to be missed, and that controversial plans to expand Britain 's airport capacity will deal a further blow.
Some projected impacts of climate change
150,000 deaths, almost entirely in developing countries, were attributable to climate change in 2003 (World Health Organisation) . If further action is not taken beyond the existing Kyoto Treaty commitments, the following consequences have been forecast:
Beech woods die out on South Downs of England by 2030 ( Woodland Trust)
150 million environmental refugees by 2050 (Climate Institute, Washington)
Over a quarter of all species die out by 2050 (Nature)
Total cost of damage from climate change exceeds worldwide Gross Domestic Product by 2065 (CGNU reinsurance company)
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