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5th Assembly - Flämslätt - September 2006
Fifteen People from Britain and Ireland were armongst the almost 100 people who attended the 5th ECEN Assembly - They attended in various roles - as speakers, interpreter, leaders of ECEN coalitions, members of the ECEN steering group, coalition leaders, delegates and participants: Fred Dinnings, Martin Conway, Eleanor Todd, Ruth Conway, Michael Northcott, Paula Clifford, Robin Morrison, Martyn Goss, Louise Poole, Catherine Brennan, Helen Shiel, Joseph Furphy, Bob Buick, Judith Allinson, Stephen Powell.
Judith, Martin, Ruth and Eleanor travelled there by bus as this causes less global warming than short haul plane, and took 30 hours from London.
Martyn Goss, Diocescan Environment Officer for the Exeter Diocese, and Delegate for the Church of England writes the following report (Pictures by Judith Allinson and Eleanor Todd) :
Lord, fill us with your energy to turn our ideas into love and our love into
Flämsätt, Sweden was the location for the 5 th Assembly of the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) from 25 th September to 1 st October 2006 . With almost 100 participants from Catholic, Orthodox and Reformed Churches across 24 countries, and again with representation from the global 'South' and from the World Council of Churches, it was a very rich and enlivening event.
The main issue for discussion and reflection was Energy, through various speakers and presentations. ECEN examined energy previously in Minsk in 2001 when it asked "churches to commit themselves to promoting energy scenarios in which priority is unambiguously and deliberately given to energy saving and energy generation from renewable sources."
Since then there have been several significant changes, and the production, consumption and security of energy in Europe face huge challenges today:
climate change is an immediate and real threat
peace is threatened by global energy inequalities and politics
fossil fuel is rising in price as "peak oil" is approached/surpassed
nuclear power plants are being planned but are not an ethical option for many
These are symptoms of the distorted values of consumer societies which seek happiness by exploiting the resources of the world instead of enjoying its blessings in Christian love. In the light of Christian mission and concern for justice, the Assembly called churches to act, particularly as large consumers of energy themselves.
Energy in the physical sense of the term is embedded in a wider horizon of spiritual energy and vital energies. In God's liberating compassion our God is like the bush which burns and is not consumed (Ex. 3). In Jesus Christ, God communicates to us the healing and transforming power of love (Jn. 15.9). Love is the energy of faith (Gal. 5.6) - God's infinite gift for finite beings in a finite world. Such is the leading perspective for Christian responsibility in the field of energy needs, energy use and energy politics.
Seven groups developed their work on Theology, Eco-Management, Creation Sunday, Education and Transport. Two of the major sub-themes for the event were Climate Change and Water,
As Global Warming is now increasingly the main threat to the life of future generations, an important new Climate Justice Coalition is being launched. This coalition intends to approach climate change from a North-South justice perspective, and aims to bring together initiatives in the European churches, organisations and agencies in the field of climate change and energy.
The basic requirement to achieve justice is the equal share and sustainable use of the atmosphere by all the world's inhabitants.
As outlined in more detail in the paper Climate Justice Now! , this justice perspective means:
- bringing down Greenhouse Gas emissions in the North by:
changing lifestyles (through theological reflection, education, awareness raising, campaigns, etc.)
shifting towards green energy
- promoting voluntary payments for remaining surplus of Greenhouse Gas emissions above the sustainable footprint (e.g. 2 ton CO 2 per capita) which will be used for financing sustainable development projects in the South.
The Water working group also produced a message for the churches of Europe . It highlights that there is now an Ecumenical Water Programme as part of the WCC , and new initiatives are growing such as the work of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and a new alliance on Water between churches in Switzerland and Brazil .
Water is a source of life, provided by God and the pre-condition of living on Earth. It has intrinsic value requiring its own space, and also has pragmatic value in supporting diverse life-forms. In terms of human use, it can be a source of conflict, as in certain areas or times of shortage. Over-exploitation, commodification, contamination and fighting wars over water brings about death and destruction. However, water-use needs to be affirmed as an opportunity to develop common life and unity. It should rather be a source of dialogue, co-operation and unification between peoples, including different faith communities.
This encourages us to challenge practices and policies which promote greed and injustice. Instead, we need to recognise limits to insatiable demand and plan together for a more sustainable future for all. The sharing of water resources more equitably and their affirmation as part of God's purposes for the whole Creation, can make for a better world.
During the five days participants visited the reclaimed lake at Homborga, which is home to thousands of resident and migratory birds, and an important site for wildlife in northern Europe . It also serves as a carbon sink. We also heard about the 'etik & energi' project and its vision to convert Swedish church forests, land and property to more sustainable uses with a special emphasis on biomass (timber, fuel crops) and efficiency.
As always, the plenary discussions and working groups were enveloped in worship - Celtic, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant - with services taking place twice daily in the Flämsätt chapel.
The final moving liturgy was incorporated into the morning service at nearby Skara Cathedral on 1 st October.
Caps and T shirts promoting ECEN were sold at Flämsätt to raise funds. These are produced from material that would be wasted in factory with good working conditions, and without azo dye.
The final statement from the Assembly draws attention to four energy action points:
Sufficiency - as human beings we have to learn to live within the Earth's carrying capacity and to limit our demands
Efficiency - we can reduce our needs by using more effective appliances, conserving energy and wasting less
Renewables - both now and in the longer term we need to use renewable sources of energy on a small scale and local basis
Planet Perspective - we must change our attitudes and actions towards the whole world; to non-human life; and to future generations because we are causing damage to more than ourselves
The European Christian Environmental Network concluded by challenging all of us in our churches, to take action in each of these four areas before September 2007. We are invited to write a short report or press release of what we have done on each point and then:
For more detailed reports and statements check on www.ecen.org
Copyright © 2012 Christian Ecology Link and Martyn Goss http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk
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