Churches learn micro power path to a green future
The entire UK building stock, including church property, could be reduced to zero greenhouse gas emissions with net economic savings well before 2050, the British and Irish churches were told yesterday. Fifty percent of environment destroying emissions come from buildings.
The proposal came from business leader and environmental pioneer Dr Jeremy Leggett in an address to 300 church leaders and representatives meeting in Swanwick, Derbyshire, for the assembly of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
The strategy involves a portfolio of renewable micro power, with solar prominent in the mix, plus energy efficiency measures, explained Dr Leggett, a campaigner and consultant who now heads up one of the UKís fastest growing companies, Solarcentury.
As well as outlining the major global threat posed by the greenhouse effect, Dr Leggett called on Christians to take seriously both the problems and the opportunities of environmental action.
ìThe time is right for Christians to play a leadership role with other key protagonists,î said Dr Leggett. He went on to demonstrate in technological and economic terms how the market could be made to reduce rather than enhance the threat through solar energy.
The UK government has accepted a target of a 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050, but it has so far been slow to invest in viable energy alternatives or to respond to local government and business initiatives.
Dr Leggett, who has an oil industry background, is author of the acclaimed book The Carbon Wars, a member of the UK governmentís Renewables Advisory Board, and a former winner of the US Climate Instituteís Award for Advancing Understanding. His Solarcentury company has recently received significant investment through major energy company Scottish and Southern.
ìWe aspire to be the Microsoft of the solar revolution, only nicerî, Leggett told CTBI delegates. A one-time Greenpeace environment campaigner, he said that it was possible to be vigorously competitive in the marketplace without compromising social and environmental values.
ìWe exist to see everyday life powered by products and innovations that fight global warming,î announced Dr Leggett, pointing out that, in hard economic terms, oil, coal and gas are subsidised by £230 billion a year by wealthy countries. ëAlternativesí should rightfully be the mainstream, he suggested.
In global terms Leggett said that the World Bank should be involved in micro-credit and investment to proliferate locally developed, sustainable energy programmes.
As far as churches across Britain and Ireland are concerned he said that church roofs can and should be adapted for solar power, utilising grants and spread-billing which made it immediately realisable and quickly profitable.
The talk was part of a pre-launch promotion for a major new churchesí report on the ethics of affluence, Prosperity With A Purpose, which is published on 28 February 2005.
The study argues that Christians should take a much more positive approach to wealth creation than has historically been the case, but that this can and should be linked to the struggle against poverty and ecological degradation.