Time to Act on Climate Change:
Living Witness Group. Sunday February 22nd, 2015. 12 to 1pm
2015 is a crucial year to put action on the climate firmly on the political agenda. Our General Election is in May. The International Climate talks are in Paris in December.
The Living Witness Group invites you to a workshop on Sunday February 22nd 12pm to share ideas and resources on ways we can speak truth to power and share our commitment to be a low carbon community with the wider world and those in power. There will be opportunities to take away pro forma letters to send to our parliamentary candidates and hear about the Time to Act for the Climate National March, rally and creative action in London on March 7th.
I have recently joined the Living Witness Group. I have been aware and active around the climate crisis for a long time and engaged with Sheffield Climate Alliance.
I felt enormous relief when I read the Quakers Canterbury commitment, minute 36, made at Yearly meeting 2011. Selected paragraphs below.
Looking deeply, my sense of relief is from “joining the dots,” the spiritual and political linking up, meeting that need for deep connection. I do feel gratitude to be part of a spiritual community that is asking us all to respond to the challenge of climate change, to take on the enormity of the scale of change required, to realise the links with our current economic inequitable system and to draw on our Quaker tradition and testimonies, including speaking truth to power and engagement through love and joy!
I feel extremely proud that UK Quakers were the first faith group to disinvest from fossil fuels.
Two years ago at our Sheffield Meeting I felt particularly heartened, inspired and grateful to the Living Witness Group for holding evening sessions to share our responses to Pam Lunn’s Swarthmore lecture, “Costing not less than Everything”, which led up to the Canterbury commitment. Here are just two of her chapter headings and quotes framing ways we can respond:
1.”There are no passengers in spaceship earth. We are all crew” Marshall McLuhan
As crew, she suggests ways we can all take responsibility for action:
- Notice that climate change is a problem
- Interpret this as a situation in which something needs doing
- Assume personal responsibility for doing something
- Choose what to do
2. The Time is Now: ”You do not have to change: survival is not mandatory” W.Edwards Denning
So, my choice, in what I can offer the Living Witness Group at this pivotal time, is to be a connector and try and join the dots between Sheffield Climate Action and our Quaker community. I am delighted that Janet Paske, also a member of SCA and our Meeting is joining me in this.
On the 22nd February we will be sharing some of the ways the National Campaign against Climate Change and Sheffield Climate Alliance are calling on our political leaders to show leadership: to move from delay to action with practical policies which can lead to a more sustainable and equal society.
Such policies include:
● 10% emissions cuts year on year, creating at least one million climate jobs.
● From fracking and fossil fuels to renewable energy for all our needs.
● From cold homes and energy waste to insulation for all.
● From exploitation to climate justice: UK support for a just international climate deal.
We are currently drafting pro forma letters Friends can make their own to send to their MPs and parliamentary candidates. We will also encourage friends to think about joining The Time to Act for the Climate March in London on March 7th. We will of course welcome all other creative responses to rise to the challenge of our time.
Canterbury commitment. Sections from Minute 36
“Sustainability is an urgent matter for our Quaker witness. It is rooted in Quaker testimony and must be integral to all we do corporately and individually.”
(A framework for action 2009-2014)
A concern for the Earth and the well-being of all who dwell in it is not new, and we have not now received new information which calls us to act. Rather we are renewing our commitment to a sense of the unity of creation which has always been part of Friends’ testimonies. Our actions have as yet been insufficient.
The environmental crisis is enmeshed with global economic injustice and we must face our responsibility as one of the nations which has unfairly benefited at others’ expense, to redress inequalities which, in William Penn’s words, are ‘wretched and blasphemous.’ (Quaker faith & practice 25.13)
We encourage local and area meetings to practise speaking truth to power at local level by establishing relationships with all sections of local communities, including politicians, businesses and schools, to encourage positive attitudes to sustainability.
This process needs to be joyful and spirit-led, with room for corporate discernment at local, area and national level. We believe this corporate action will enable us to speak truth to power more confidently. Growing in the spirit is a consequence of taking action, and action flows from our spiritual growth; here is the connectedness we seek. Only a demanding common task builds community.”
This is a longer version of an article by Heather Hunt that will be printed in Sheffield Quaker News in January.