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October 7, 2009

Climate change must be tackled by everyone

The Moderator of Church Of Scotland recently argued that climate change is a moral issue and as such it is the responsibility of all parts of civil society to take action –  no longer can it be left up to the environmental lobby.  An emerging movement of eco-congregations based in communities from Shetland down to Dumfries is an illustration of what he means


THE growing Scottish Eco-Congregations movement this week echoed a statement made by the Moderator of the Church of Scotland last week, that combating Climate Change is a moral issue.

The network of 224 churches from Shetland to Dumfries ac¬knowledged in a report this week that individually they could be doing more to combat climate change. It called on congre¬gations and individuals to find out what the carbon footprint of their churches and homes and lifestyles are and aim to re¬duce them.

Former Edinburgh City Council leader and the convenor of the Eco¬congregation movement Ewan Aitken said that congregations could be a catalyst for change across the whole world. Hopefully, in Scotland, he will be right.

The Eco-Congregation movement is an inspiration to the rest of civil society in demonstrating that part of living a socially respon¬sible life today is taking individual and group responsibility for climate change.

Some charities have long seen the link between climate change and their own remits. The consequences of global warming on developing world poverty has long been under¬stood by international aid and development agencies, like Oxfam, Save the Children and Christian Aid, for example.

But closer to home many third sector organisations are fail¬ing to see the relevance of climate change on their activities. If their remit is to fight poverty and inequality in Scotland or work with disabled young people, why would they want to spend their valuable time and money joining a climate change coalition or creating a policy on global warming?

The truth is that it doesn’t have to cost anything – investing in video conferences instead of flying to London will save both time and money and decreasing energy consumption in the of¬fice will save cash. Also, creating and implementing a sustain¬able operations policy might just mean adapting current policies, and will only take a few hours.

Ultimately though the groups that Scotland’s voluntary sec¬tor is supporting are those most vulnerable to the effects of cli¬mate change. Should some of the truly catastrophic predictions come to pass, it will be the poor and the vulnerable that will suffer most. If more food shortages spread to the developed world, as many are suggesting, we will see availability and cost of our basic foods rocket. If energy prices rise, the number of people living in fuel poverty will also increase, forcing many more to decide between heating their homes or feeding their kids. If we start to see food and energy cuts and dramatic weather changes, such as flooding and hurricanes, those with chaotic lifestyles, already struggling to cope, will be at even greater risk.

As Eco-Congregations have realised, all of us have a social and moral duty to do what we can to combat climate change. A united civil society can make a major impact on something that has the potential to devastate our way of life; something which is happening now, in our generation, but will have major repercussions for the very future of humanity.

Whether a voluntary organisation aims to protect and support animals, people with drug problems, single parents, people with learning disabilities or the elderly, they need to help com¬bat climate change now.