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ARC and Kyoto

Paola Triolo of ARC, at Lambeth 2005:

In 2000, ARC was contacted by WWF who asked us to get religious leaders around the world to write to their governments and put pressure on them to sign the Kyoto Protocol….. Of course we said NO.

It was a great idea - but the reason we had to say “No” was because we were not sure that the religious groups were doing very much about reducing greenhouse gases themselves. Instead, what we decided to do was to ask the faiths to make their own commitments to reduce greenhouse gases and THEN to go to their governments to ask them to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

We were aware that religious groups could have a vast impact. In the UK, for example, religious groups own more than 150,000 buildings. Compare that to fewer than ten buildings owned by the entire environment movement in the whole UK.

"We were aware that religious groups could have a vast impact. In the UK, for example, religious groups own more than 150,000 buildings. Compare that to fewer than ten buildings owned by the entire environment movement in the whole UK."
Since then ARC has developed new programmes on Climate Change with religious groups all over the world. We started with collecting material on how to use resources more efficiently and we produced the Climate Change Partnership Booklet.

Now we are working with different groups to apply some of the ideas. For example, we have started a programme with the Diocese of Manchester and Liverpool to reduce their CO2 emissions, mostly by reassessing how they heat their buildings and how they travel to work.

We are also working outside the UK: for example in Zambia one of the big problems is the impact of poverty on trees. People cut down trees to make charcoal, which they then sell to buy food. The trouble is that many of those trees come from virgin forests and are irreplaceable. So with local groups such as the Benedictines ARC is working on developing projects on tree-planting, agriculture and awareness raising projects. We still want people to have a source of charcoal – but it has to be a renewable one.

Yesterday I came back from Mexico where I was excited to learn that Catholic groups are working with the government and the World Bank to develop an investment fund to buy trees to offset their emissions. The Guadalajara Cathedral for example is now officially CO2 neutral and we hope that many other churches will follow. It is only then that they will be ready to talk to their local governments and say “this is what we are doing. How about you?”



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