14 March 2019
A new scheme has been launched to continue the ongoing commitment of the Methodist Church to reduce its impact on God’s creation. Eco Circuit and Eco District awards have been developed to support the growing interest in Eco Church. The new awards have been developed by the Methodist Church and A Rocha UK, the organisation behind Eco Church, and are similar to the Church of England Eco Diocese award. They provide recognition of the concerns of circuits and districts in their care of creation and will encourage further local church engagement with Eco Church.
To become an Eco Circuit/Eco District, the circuit or district needs to:
- Have an agreed environmental policy
- Be recording and celebrating individual environmental initiatives
- Have achieved the Eco Church Bronze level or above in the Buildings category for its district/circuit offices (where appropriate) and land (where appropriate)
- Have gained a number of Eco Church awards across the circuit or district
The full list of criteria is available on the A Rocha UK website.
Michaela Youngson, President of the Conference of the Methodist Church and Bala Gnanapragasam, Vice-President, have welcomed the new awards and made the following statements today.
Revd Michaela Youngson, President of the Conference of the Methodist Church
The urgency of the climate crisis is increasingly clear. As a nation we have begun to reduce carbon emissions but not nearly fast enough. I call on our government to put in place policies that will reduce our national carbon emissions to net zero as soon as possible.
In the midst of this crisis I have come across many members in our churches who are responding in different ways. Some are taking action within their churches while others are working alongside others in the community. The Eco Church programme is a great way for us to recognise these efforts. It is a simple and straightforward programme and I encourage every Methodist Church to consider becoming an Eco Church. Today the Methodist Church, with the support of A Rocha UK, is launching Eco Circuit and Eco District, enabling the Methodist Church to respond at every level.
Bala Gnanapragasam, Vice-President of the Conference of the Methodist Church
This year is the tenth anniversary of the publication of the report ‘Hope in God’s Future’ at the Methodist Conference. Our hope is in a faithful God who delights in creation. This hope blossoms when we are turning words into action. The current Living Lent campaign gives us an opportunity to pray and reflect on changes that we can make in our lifestyles.
Both Living Lent and Eco Church are opportunities for us to join with ecumenical partners. Now Methodist Circuits and Districts are able to join Eco Church alongside Church of England Dioceses and United Reformed Church Synods. Together, we can take action to protect God’s creation for future generations.
Eco Circuit and Eco District guidelines are available here
In October 2017 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported on the implications of 1.5 degrees global warming. It stated that we are not on track for this and we have 12 years to accelerate decarbonisation efforts if we are to keep the possibility of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees in sight.
Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the UK Committee on Climate Change has said “Of course, the hardest challenge is not setting new long-term targets; it is acting now. The lesson from last year’s IPCC report is not – as some have said – that we have 12 years to respond to climate change, it’s that we must act immediately.”
The Eco Circuit and Eco District concept was originally approved in principle by Methodist Council in 2016. Since then Eco Church has developed the Eco denominational areas and we are now in a position to implement this for Methodists. The Church of England has 4 Eco Dioceses with Bronze awards and 14 others have registered their intention to become Eco Dioceses.
Steve Hucklesby, Policy Adviser, the Joint Public Issues Team met with Claire Perry, Minister for Energy and Clean Growth in November 2018 to discuss the UK government’s assessment of a net zero emissions target. Her Department has asked the independent Committee on Climate Change to advise on the feasibility of a UK commitment to Net Zero emissions.
Christian Aid and other agencies have announced a mass lobby of Parliament to take place on 26 June 2019 to call on MPs to commit the UK to achieving net zero carbon emissions before 2050.