Just back from the Oxford diocesan synod in High Wycombe. Along with Eco-congregation representatives from All Saints, Wokingham and from Great Missenden I had about 2 minutes to talk about what Eco-congregation means to our church. This was part of a motion being proposed by the Diocesan Board for Social Responsibility:This synod affirms its commitment to the Fifth Mark of Mission‘To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth’ and accordingly:
Recognises and commends the work of the Oxford Diocesan Environment Group (ODEG);
Aims to implement the motion on carbon emission reductions adopted by synod in 2005;
Draws attention to the resources offered by Eco-congregation;Recommends that each department at Diocesan Church House nominate a link person to work with ODEG in co-ordinating a diocesan strategy on climate change issues;
Welcomes the General Synod’s plans to set up an ‘adaptation fund’ to mitigate the disproportionate burden of climate change in other parts of the world, and encourages parishes to make use of this.
What struck me most about the accompanying presentation is the fact that the average Tanzanian's carbon emissions are equal to those of my freezer alone. All my freezer contains at present are ice lollies I'm usually too strict to let the children eat, an occasionally used ice-cream maker and some beef burgers from a student barbecue here that need to be transferred to the freezer of someone who actually eats meat - that is a scandal. (Of course I always mean it to be full of home-grown produce but my gardening has been utterly chaotic this year).
Guessing what was most appropriate to say to the delegates was not easy. I aimed for referring to easy-to-do, visible actions like the recycling boxes, clutter sales and LOAF meals that involved a number of environmental/development issues at once. Even as I did so I was aware that it felt very small scale. I should of course have mentioned political campaigning, but beyond postcard signing most members of the congregation haven't done much on this issue. I've not been on a demonstration myself since my youngest was in utero.
One of those who stood up to comment afterwards compared it with making buckets when we need an ark. Another asked whether we should be buying fair trade sugar or locally grown Silver Spoon.
The event has been reported in the diocesan newspaper, The Door
The motion passed almost unanimously but I was left feeling it was inadequate - are we achieving any more than creating a culture of green consciousness?
All the campaiging that made the government agree to an 80% emissions cut target was clearly good, but on Thursday I met with Reading Faith Forum's environmental group which includes a borough council rep: I was struck by how very low the immediate carbon reductions targets are and the lack of planning for meeting the 80%. Those making the commitments will not be on the political scene to be held accountable if the grander targets are missed.