How are Faith Based Organisations Reducing Emissions?

Faith communities have an important role to play in pressing for changes in behaviour to reduce emissions, at every level of society. All of us need to make more eco-friendly choices and change our habits to take better care of our Earth. Reducing emissions is an important responsibility of religious communities.

Many churches, temples, synagogues etc. already have various eco-friendly initiatives in place, but often do not communicate this. There are many inspiring examples of faith organisations reducing emissions in their places of worship. Solar electric panels and solar water heating are common choices for renewable energy being installed in churches, temples, schools, other buildings and in parking areas.  

Recent examples include:

1) The Global Catholic Climate Movement launched an Eco-Parish Guide (April 2016) directed at Catholic parishes globally (but can be used for any faith building) to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Inspired by Catholic Social Teaching, the Eco-Parish guide offers an active response to Pope Francis’ call for climate change action in his encyclical, Laudato Si’.  Many of the steps to reduce emissions are possible to follow without needing too much expertise and come within budget. All of these energy efficient steps can also be implemented in a temple, mosque, synagogue etc. It is important to also involve members of the congregation to help reduce emissions.

2) World’s Largest Community Kitchen at Golden Temple Will Now Serve Organic Langar (March 2016)- the Guru Ramdas Langar Hall at Sri Harmandir Sahib (popularly known as the Golden Temple) – one of the world’s largest community kitchens that feeds up to 100,000 people everyday, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week for free, is raising the bar even further by serving organic ‘langar’ to their devotees. 

Dr Rajwant Singh, founder and president of EcoSikh, a non-profit organisation working to raise awareness about environmental issues and inspiring farmers to focus on producing food through organic means, said that they are now hoping that around 25,000-30,000 gurdwaras in Punjab will follow suit to serve organic langar.

Organic farming systems generally use soil management practices that offer the best opportunities to reduce GHG emissions, build soil organic carbon (SOC) and sequester atmospheric carbon. Among the most promising are: reduction/elimination of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer applications; use of organic fertilizers and cover crops and conservation tillage.

3) In February 2016, the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, endorsed a new campaign called the ‘Big Church Switch’ encouraging Christians to choose renewable energy tariffs. The campaign, launched by Christian Aid and Tearfund on Ash Wednesday in the hope to spur hundreds of thousands of Christians to switch energy suppliers.

4) Brahma Kumaris: For almost 20 years, Brahma Kumaris and its sister organization, the World Renewal Spiritual Trust (WRST), a recognized scientific and industrial research organization in India, have been conducting training, research and development in renewable energy technologies. They has done pioneering work in solar energy and sustainable energy, including developing the world's largest solar cooker. 'India One', a 1 MW solar thermal power plant situated near the Brahma Kumaris Shantivan Campus in Abu Road, Rajasthan, India, is due to be completed in 2016. The plant will generate enough heat and power for a campus of 25,000 people and is a milestone for decentralized and clean power generation in India. See video here

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