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CEL home > News, archives and links > October 2008

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Text Box: REPORT FROM THE 2008 ECEN ASSEMBLY  Adrian Shaw, Church of Scotland

The biennial ECEN Assembly met at Sacro Cuore near Milan in September 2008. The theme of the Assembly was how Christians across Europe should respond to climate change. The Assembly debated and agreed a statement addressed to churches across Europe highlighting the urgency of the situation and calling upon churches and congregations to engage in the climate change debate taking place in the European Union and United Nations. Read the address at http://www.ecen.org

The Assembly also highlighted the spiritual and practical steps that churches and congregations across Europe are taking to put care for creation at the centre of their worship and their lives.

THE POLITICAL CONTEXT

The Assembly met against the background of international negotiations preparing for UN conferences on climate change that will be held in Poznan in Poland at the end of November 2008 and in Copenhagen in December 2009. The Assembly agreed that there is a great opportunity for churches across Europe to contribute to the international political process leading up to the conferences. In this process the role of the European Union and European states is crucial to a successful outcome. The Assembly is also concerned to support the European Union proposals for a reduction in the emissions of greenhouse gases across the EU of 20% by 2020. Debates on this proposal are currently taking place within the European Parliament and elsewhere.

WHAT CAN CHURCHES AND CONGREGATIONS DO?

The Assembly considered how churches and congregations can best respond to climate change. This included a number of themes.

Understand the issues

The Assembly heard a presentation from Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He gave an outstanding account of current research on climate change and the role of the IPCC in reviewing this research and summarising its findings for policy makers. At a time when confusing and sometimes conflicting stories on climate change are reported in the press the IPCC is the most authoritative and reliable source of information. Churches and congregations can access the information online. See http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr_spm.pdf for the 2007 summary report for policy makers.

In worship: Creation time .

Churches around Europe have identified Creation Time (sometimes called Creationtide or Time of Creation) as a focus for worship and prayer about environmental issues. This originated in the Orthodox Church's Creation Day on 1 September but has now developed to become an ecumenical season from 1 September, incorporating the Feast of St. Francis on 4 October, Harvest Festival and concluding in the middle of October. It celebrates the wonder and bounty of creation but is also time for reflection on climate change and the role of churches and congregations in caring for creation. ECEN has produced prayers and other resources for worship which you can download as a PDF document at: http://www.ecen.org/cms/uploads/creationdossier08en.pdf

In action

Churches across Europe are taking practical action to measure and reduce their environmental impact, particularly by reducing energy consumption. Eco-Congregations is one of the largest such initiatives but there are many others. ECEN has produced a dossier which you can download as a PDF document (2MB) at:

http://www.ecen.org/cms/uploads/0802envmanagement.pdf

Involvement, Partnership and Lobbying

The Assembly called upon congregations and churches to become involved in the European debate. It was suggested that churches should promote awareness and action in partnership with other national and local organisations such as development agencies like Christian Aid, environment NGOs, and local politicians. In particular churches were urged to lobby MEPs to encourage them to strengthen the European Union's resolve to tackle climate change. In Scotland the active participation of faith groups in the Stop Climate Chaos coalition is a good example of this.

WHAT ELSE WAS DISCUSSED?

There was concern about the impact of population growth and continued unsustainable economic growth worldwide. Several delegates pointed to the challenges this raises and the impact of climate change on rapidly growing population. Forced migration into Europe is a painful consequence of climate change and population growth.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

The ECEN website contains further details of the Assembly and the work of ECEN. The ECEN General Assembly will meet again in two years but members share resources and develop work by e-mail, the ECEN website, a facebook group and working group meetings. In Britain the Environmental Issues Network of CTBI will be meeting to consider how churches can work together to take forward the address from the Assembly. All churches, congregations and other faith groups are invited to consider how they can contribute to this process.

Adrian Shaw, Climate Change Project Officer, Church of Scotland

0131 225 5722

ashaw@cofscotland.org.uk

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