Post Covid-19 "we need to shape a green and just new normal", according to David Pickering, Moderator of the United Reformed Church National Synod of Scotland, and Chair of Operation Noah from 2005 to 2010. Speaking at the AGM of Operation Noah on 15 July, he told nearly 70 participants in a zoom meeting that we have a great opportunity post-Covid "to form a green and sustainable future". The sudden reduction in carbon emissions during lockdown, "proved that transformation is possible" and many people took the opportunity "to reconnect with nature and with God".
David, who played a key role in leading the United Reformed Church to divest from fossil fuel producing companies in 2019, reminded nearly 70 participants in the zoom meeting that Operation Noah is based on sound principles. It is faith-motivated, science-informed and hope-inspired. Since its launch in 2004, Operation Noah has worked ecumenically to raise awareness of climate change and to equip Christians to take a stand on this vital issue. He called for a better appreciation and care of creation, for listening to scientists, and for taking action that will help build hope.
In a breakout group on Climate Sunday, project coordinator James Anthony said the ecumenical day in September would involve a climate service, a pledge, and advocacy on climate action. Materials will be dripped during the coming year and then 5 September 2021 will see a special climate day in all the Churches. Another group looked at planning for lobbying the COP 26 UN climate talks, now to be held in Glasgow 1-12 November 2021.
In a breakout group on the Bright Now Campaign, which promotes fossil fuel divestment by Churches, James Buchanan and Bokani Tshidzu fed back on-going divestment announcements by faith groups. In May 2020 there was another announcement by 42 institutions, including three Catholic dioceses and the Jesuits in Britain. In June the Vatican recommended that all Catholic institutions divest from fossil fuels. Also, a new Bright Now report found that major oil companies are not compliant with the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, despite bragging about greener credentials. Increasing numbers of charities view the extraction of fossil fuels as an inherently unethical activity because they are warming the planet and they are increasingly viewed as a risky economic investment as well.
In response to a question, the AGM was told that the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, and also the Bishops' Conference in Scotland, have not yet recommended divestment. The Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference divested from fossil fuels in 2018.
The meeting closed with a prayer from Pope Francis for care for the Earth. Participants prayed "to sow beauty not pollution and destruction."
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