Bishops call for carbon fast over Lent

By staff writers
February 5, 2008

Two of the Church of England’s most senior Bishops are today (Tuesday) urged people to cut their carbon rather than give up chocolate this Lent.

Bishop of Liverpool and Vice President of Tearfund, James Jones and Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres, are joining with development agency Tearfund in calling for a cut in personal carbon use for each of the 40 days of Lent, which begins tomorrow.

At the same time a Tearfund survey has revealed that three out of five adults in the UK are willing to take an energy saving action this Lent.

Tearfund and the Bishops have made the call for a carbon fast because of the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions, and to protect poor communities around the world who are already suffering from the ravages of climate change.

Bishop of Liverpool and Vice President of Tearfund, James Jones said: “Traditionally people have given up things for Lent. This year we are inviting people to join us in a Carbon Fast. It is the poor who are already suffering the effects of climate change. To carry on regardless of their plight is to fly in the face of Christian teaching. The tragedy is that those with the power to do something about it are least affected, whilst those who are most affected are powerless to bring about change. There’s a moral imperative on those of us who emit more than our fair share of carbon to rein in our consumption.”

The Carbon Fast is a forty-day journey through Lent, towards a lighter carbon footprint, with a simple energy saving action per day. The suggested actions include snubbing plastic bags, giving the dishwasher a day off, insulating your hot water tank and checking the house for drafts with a ribbon and buying draught excluders.

Participants are also being urged to begin the Carbon Fast by removing one light bulb from a prominent place in the home and live without it for 40 days - as a constant visual reminder during Lent of the need to cut energy.

On the final day of the Fast, people are encouraged to replace the missing bulb with an energy-saving bulb. Over its lifetime that one bulb will save 60kg of carbon dioxide per year and up to £60 off your energy bill.

Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres said: “We all have a pivotal role to play in tackling the stark reality of climate change. A whole host of scientific studies have made clear that it is no longer possible to find excuses for doing nothing. Nor it is not enough to point the finger of blame at others and to demand that somebody should act for us. Now is the time for individual and collective action in addressing the unsustainable way in which we are exploiting the earth’s resources. Together we have a responsibility to God, to future generations and to our own wellbeing on this earth to take action.”

It’s estimated that in the UK we emit 9.5 tons of carbon dioxide per person per year; in Ethiopia the average is 0.067 tons and in Bangladesh 0.24. Apparently the earth can sustain 0.8 per person.

Supporters of the fast include Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Sir John Houghton, Co-chair, Scientific Assessment Working Group, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (1988-2002).

Keywords:Tearfund | Lent 2008 | lent | carbon
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