UK churches show faith in renewable energy suppliers

Figures released today (1 September) have revealed that 3,500 UK churches have switched electricity suppliers to those that will only source renewable electricity, while US architects have also demanded new legislative action on climate change.

With a growing interest in the building sector to mitigate environment impacts, UK churches have come together to do their part in tackling climate change as part of a nationwide divestment away from fossil fuels.

New data from Christian Aid claims around 2,000 of these announced switches are as a result of decisions made across 16 Catholic dioceses, having already switched to an entirely renewable energy supply following the Pope’s call for environmental consideration from the church. Also, the majority of Salvation Army sites and a third of Britain’s Quaker meeting houses have made the switch.

Christian Aid chief executive Loretta Minghella said: “We need a big shift to renewable energy and a shared commitment to leave the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves in the ground. This action by thousands of churches shows a groundswell of public support for renewables to which governments must respond by doing all they can to shift to a clean energy future.”

Other sustainability efforts have been made by churches throughout the UK. So far, 340 separate congregations have signed up to the Eco-Church scheme, vowing commitment to a number of core environmental improvements and 21 catholic parishes have received a ‘Live Simply’ award that recognises a commitment to sustainability.

Moreover, 700 churches have signed up as part of the ‘big church switch’ initiative promoted by charities Christian Aid and Tearfund. The initiative will be extended into next year following this year’s success.

Sustainable Structures

Not only are the churches calling for sustainable change, but the people who build them are also conducting similar campaigns to help raise climate awareness in the US.

A group of Chicago based architects are launching an initiative calling for climate action. More than 60 architecture firms and six design industry companies around the city have joined forces for the Architects Advocate campaign.

“Climate change has yielded dramatic, potentially irreversible changes to our communities,” Chicago-based architect and Architects Advocate member Tom Jacobs said. “The core of our effort is the belief that a healthy environment is a civil right, that we need to enact meaningful legislation to mitigate Climate Change, and that architects need to publicly speak out on behalf of this goal by sharing their knowledge and actions creating liveable communities.”

The group focuses on persuading legislative action on climate change and calls for members to speak out publicly and share how actions of architectural firms help in the creation of liveable communities. Members will commit to designing healthy and liveable cities and use their unique position to guide action towards creating responsible communities.

University Challenge

British Universities have also grown more committed to sustainability, adopting renewable energy solutions and various energy saving devices. The National Union of Students (NUS) has called on all UK higher education facilities to play their part in removing a £100m ‘tip of the iceberg’ fossil fuel fund and divest assets into renewable technology.

The universities of Warwick and Edinburgh have previously announced plans to divest from fossil fuels, while a coalition of medical groups has also called on the health sector to follow the example set by churches and get rid of its fossil fuel investments on moral grounds, as it previously did with its tobacco investments.

Alex Baldwin

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