Bishop of Oxford responds to Queen’s Speech debate, warns of”environmental catastrophe”

On 7th January 2020 the Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, spoke during the second day of debate on the Queen’s Speech, on the topic of the environment and climate change:

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I rise to speak about the climate emergency and declare an interest as a member of the advisory board of the Environmental Change Institute in the University of Oxford. It is a privilege to share in this debate and particularly to welcome the maiden speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Ritchie of Downpatrick. Her commitment to her local community and depth of wisdom are very clear.

The Minister said in his opening address that climate change will test us all, and it will.

David Wallace-Wells’s book, The Uninhabitable Earth, should be required reading for every Member of this House as we move forward. Wallace-Wells begins his graphic description of the future of the earth with the unforgettable words:

“It is much, much worse than you think.”

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Bishop of Peterborough highlights value of sustainable farming and energy projects overseas

19.04.01 Peterborough bOn 4th November 2019 Baroness Jenkin of Kennington moved a motion that the House take note of the Government’s “international development work to promote the sustainable use of natural resources and prevent biodiversity loss”. The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, contributed to the debate:

Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, I too welcome this debate and the Prime Minister’s commitment to increased spending in this area. I also take note of, and agree with, the slight fear and concern of the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, that some of the money for this important work will be taken out of what ought to be spent on the relief of poverty and direct aid.

Three weeks ago I was in Israel, leading a pilgrimage looking at many of the sites mentioned in the Bible. One thing I came across that I had not seen there before but which was pointed out to me by various people was the fallow field—fields kept idle for a year to let the earth rest. I learned in geography lessons in my state county primary school around 1960 or 1961 that it was an important principle not only to rotate crops but to let the earth rest—in other words, not to squeeze everything out of it. I later discovered that this is part of the biblical teaching about the sabbath: not just that people and animals are to rest but that the earth also needs rest and recreation. That is why some farmers in Israel still practise that principle.

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government about bus companies and zero emissions

St Albans 2On 24th October 2019 Baroness Randerson asked the Government “what plans they have to encourage more people to travel by bus”. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith asked a supplementary question about public transport and air pollution:

Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, in welcoming the strategy, I am aware that we have seen numerous stories this week about levels of pollution, particularly along school runs, so we should do everything we can to get children on to buses where appropriate. However, many buses are still very poor in terms of the pollution they create, which might take some years to go through. Is there any way in which the Government can help bus companies move more rapidly to zero emissions?

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Bishop of Salisbury asks Government about taxation of fuel for air travel

Salisbury231018bOn 21st October 2019 Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb asked the Government “what plans they have to (1) ban or (2) restrict frequent flyer “airmiles” schemes.” The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, asked a follow-up question:

Lord Bishop of Salisbury: Can the Minister explain why the gap between aviation fuel being untaxed and road fuel being taxed as it is, is so great? If the answer is the difficulty of getting international agreement, why are UK internal flights not taxed to get some parity between different methods of transport?

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Bishop of Oxford asks Government for its climate change priorities

On 26th June 2019 Lord Bird asked the Government, “by what means, if at all, they require public bodies to act, and to demonstrate how they act, in a manner which seeks to ensure that the needs of the present generation are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, asked a follow-up question:

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Church Commissioners Written Answer: Coal use in churches and vicarages

On 13th June 2019 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered a written question from Philip Davies MP on coal use in churches and vicarages:
Philip Davies (Shipley) 263116: To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what assessment she made of the economic effect on churches and vicarages of the ban on house coal.

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Bishop of Salisbury calls for substantial determined and transformative response to climate challenges

On 5th June 2019 Lord Cameron of Dillington led a debate on a motion “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to (1) harness the potential of tidal ranges to generate renewable energy, and (2) encourage the private sector to invest in this area.” The Lord Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, spoke in the debate:

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The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: My Lords, this debate has already become something of a no-brainer. Quite a lot of what I wanted to say has been said, so there is no point in repeating it, but I want to thank the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, for asking the Question which has generated the debate.

The context is one in which we see a climate emergency, an increasing number of councils across the country responding to it and the other place in Parliament recognising that. Whatever we think of Extinction Rebellion, it has raised the public profile and urgency of the climate change debate and the environmental awareness of what is required of us as legislators. It cannot be business as usual.

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