Tag Archives: Climate justice

We have no time but this present time

In its last session, Yearly Meeting agreed a general epistle to be sent to Friends  everywhere. It is published here. By convention the epistle is read in local  meetings on the Sunday following the Yearly Meeting.

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We send loving greetings to Friends everywhere 

We have no time but this present time 

Friends in Britain have gathered online at this time of great upheaval, amid the pandemic,  climate and environmental breakdown, and increasing social inequality and division. We  are grateful for technology, and the hard work of Britain Yearly Meeting staff, Agenda and  Arrangements Committees, the Woodbrooke team, and others in bringing us together. 

At this Yearly Meeting Gathering Friends have considered the theme ‘For our comfort  and discomfort: living equality and truth in a time of crisis’. We have been wrestling with  what it will mean to be truly committed to anti-racism and faith-based action for climate  justice. We have thought about how to better affirm gender diversity in our meetings. We  have discovered the challenges of attempting to make statements as a unified ‘we’ in a  way that acknowledges the different experiences among us

We have greatly missed the opportunities of being together as an all-age community that  we would have had in a face-to-face Gathering. We held a worship session during which  the children and young people shared their exploration of community, climate, equality  and truth. Junior Yearly Meeting asked how we could centre justice and equity in our anti racism and climate justice work. Only when all are listened to equally, may all be treated  equally. 

As in the days of early Friends, we sense this is a time of prophecy and want to uphold  the prophets in our midst and in the wider world. We must heed the Spirit’s call to urgent  action. Prophets are visionaries, calling out those in power, and reconcilers stand in the  middle of conflict: in this both run great risk.

A Friend of Colour spoke in ministry: 

All I have ever wanted for the longest time is to feel equal, 

and again, here in this room, I don’t. 

I hear people talk all week about George Floyd but we are here now, in the UK, in your meetings, feeling like outsiders every day. 

This is not the experience I was promised. 

Racism is systemic. To most white people – including white Quakers – it is largely invisible, like the air they breathe. As long as it stays unrecognised, systems and  institutions that perpetuate white power are left unchallenged. Racism and oppression  are often daily realities for those without the advantages conferred by white skin. 

As a Yearly Meeting in session we have declared our commitment to becoming an  actively anti-racist faith community. 

Our theologians and historians are helping us to root our action in our faith, reminding us  of the examples of Friends of the past who have listened to the voice of the Spirit and  followed the inward Light. They challenge the complacency of some white Friends’  perception of themselves as ‘good’ people. 

We have heard trans and non-binary Friends and their loved ones talk about their gender  journeys and of being in Quaker community. Acknowledging trans or non-binary identity  can be compounded by unfamiliarity, ignorance and prejudice. Providing support can  lead to greater self-acceptance, enabling Friends to flourish and contribute. Belonging is  being accepted as one’s true self. Who are we to resist what God has created and  continues to create in all their glory? 

As a Yearly Meeting in session we lovingly acknowledged and affirmed the trans, non binary and gender non-conforming Friends in our communities. 

It is ten years since Britain Yearly Meeting in session committed to becoming a low  carbon, sustainable faith community. Friends across the world have long held a concern  for us to live in right relationship with creation. We grieve for the planet we love – our  home – but we have no time to despair. We must act with urgency and imagination – the  consequences of inaction are upon us. 

For those experiencing injustice, the need for transformation is urgent. We know those  who have contributed least to climate and ecological breakdown are the most affected:  the poor, the global majority, and vulnerable communities everywhere. We recognise and  abhor the legion of violent, deadly impacts of economic and exploitative systems on both  the people, other species and lifeforms, and the body of our Earth. The climate crisis is  fuelled by a system based on growth, consumption and systemic inequalities. If life on  earth is to survive we must push for a more democratic, compassionate and equitable  world. 

Britain Yearly Meeting has asked its central committees to emphasise the urgency of  work on climate and ecological justice and to cooperate with others across the world in  this task. 

Our individual tasks are our Quaker spiritual discipline: loving our neighbour – on our  street and across oceans; and caring, cherishing and protecting our natural world. Let’s  not be self-conscious about speaking of the Quaker faith that underpins our action.

Epistle from Britain Yearly Meeting | August 2021 Quakers in Britain 

Friends have talked about the need to let go of stories we tell ourselves about our shared  near-400-year history and hold fast to the essence of the Quaker way. Is it time to look  afresh at systems, structures, processes and procedures – and possessions like meeting  houses that might hold us back? We’re already starting to address this by agreeing to  change some committee responsibilities next year, and through our Simpler Meetings  project. 

Our Quaker forebears were wild about their faith. And they challenged the establishment.  Suggesting that anyone could have a direct, unmediated relationship with the Divine, and  that our relationship with God should not be confined to the steeple house, was  revolutionary and upended the status quo. Is it time to rewild our Quakerism? 

We will often get things wrong. But we have been comforted by the reminder that Jesus’  disciples often did not understand, they argued with him about who he was and what he  should do. When Jesus said, ‘Feed these five thousand’, they said, ‘you must be joking?!’  When it got to the really difficult stuff, they ran away. 

Faithfulness is not about always getting it right, it is about committing ourselves to  carefully seeing and listening. We need to walk together in the Light, so we can see what  we are meant to do and find the strength to do it. 

We have been heartened to hear through their epistles that other Yearly Meetings and faith bodies are grappling with the same issues. It is vital we work alongside and be led  by Friends and others across the world. We do not have to do things on our own and have learned the value of sharing our skills, resources and insights with each other. We  have enjoyed welcoming international and ecumenical visitors, exploring with them  common areas of concern. One of the things we have gained through the pandemic is  new ways to meet with one another, so that we are no longer limited by geography. 

We can meet one another on kinder ground, in our personal relationships, meetings,  wider communities, and on social media. We can help create listening spaces using our  skills and resources. We can help create a climate where the pursuit of truth is not about becoming dug into our rigid positions. 

We need to quietly listen, and tenderly explore difference, disagreement and areas of  discomfort, and thereby avoid a false peace. A commitment to truth requires us to be  open to new experiences with a readiness to learn, while weighing up what we hear and  see through the light of our faith. 

There is so much to do but we have been inspired by the prophetic voices we have heard  throughout our Gathering. We have pledged ourselves to continue to be a ‘gentle, angry’  people who dare to live for truth and justice in such a time of crisis. 

Our Salter Lecturer told us ‘I didn’t choose politics, politics chose me’. She asked us:  what work is choosing us at this time? 

Friends, we have no time but this present time. We should now do what love requires of  us. 

Signed in and on behalf of Britain Yearly Meeting 

Clare Scott Booth, Clerk

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Filed under News, Woodlands and Climate Justice

Our Woodlands Project Starts to Branch Out

Woodlands for all infographic

The story of our Hope for the Future event, 22 April 2021. Infographic by Rebecca Roberts, Enviro- visuals

Our Zoom event of 22 April 2021,   ‘Woodlands for All: Is it time for Hemel Hempstead to branch out’  can now be viewed online: 

Speakers

Attendees

  • Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning,
  • Representatives of the Hertfordshire County,  Dacorum Borough Councils
  • 40+ concerned local residents.

Hosted by Emma Stevens,  Hope for the Future 

We have committed to work together in our joint enterprise.  Our next actions were agreed at a steering meeting the week after the event

  1. Organise group knowledge sharing and research around understanding the Dacorum Local Strategic Plan
  2. Work on mapping Hemel Hempstead’s existing woodland and tree cover 
  3. Decide on specifics of approach and key points to raise with Dacorum Council when our next meeting is arranged

We are grateful for the support and expertise of the team of talented and dedicated young people at the Hope for the Future charity.

This movement was inspired by Colin Cartwright , minister at the Carey Baptist eco – Church, who approached us to partner with him, following our Climate Justice seminar for local people in September 2020.

2021 marks 10 years of Quakers’ Canterbury Commitment to take action to become a low carbon, sustainable community.

Woodlands for All logoKeep our town a healthy and desirable place to live and work

 

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Filed under News

Rebelling for Climate Justice

Sue Hampton, Quaker climate change protester from Berkhamsted,  caused some ‘good trouble’ in Harpenden this  weekend.  This is what happened when she did a sit down protest. Read her story on her blog.

Author Sue’s book about her experiences as a Quaker in the Extinction Rebellion movement is her best-seller. You can order Rebelling for Life off her website: 

Quakers are committed to become a low carbon community. Because of this, we are taking action for climate justice and the economic transformation needed to achieve it.

Find out what that means on the British Quakers website.

 

 

 

 

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Speaking Truth to Power – Follow up blog #1 How does reduced financial inequality lead to reduced GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emissions?

At our recent event, The Climate Emergency in Dacorum – How You Can Speak Truth to Power there was debate on the questions posed by the climate justice movement.

Some citizens felt that reducing inequality between richer and poorer nations would simply result in a greater output of emissions as countries achieved higher levels of production. 

This is a complex issue so we were pleased to receive the following thoughtful and informed letter from a Quaker at Luton meeting, Colin Hall, who is also the secretary of the Bedford Climate Forum. 

 

Dear Friends at Hemel Hempstead

Many thanks for organising this event on Climate Emergency, and to Rebecca Woo for leading it.  Action on climate the environmental crisis is so utterly important, yet it seems to figure so little in current UK government planning, as far as we can tell.  Thanks too for the links and follow up material from Rebecca.

I have been thinking about the vital concept of climate justice and in particular the searching question asked about whether reduced financial inequality (desirable in itself) would actually lead to reduced GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emissions, i.e. as suggested, would not the poor produce more GHG as they become richer?

I can think of various related reasons to be hopeful that greater financial equality if enacted could help to address climate catastrophe – there may be many others:

  1. More equal societies do better in many key respects, one of which is greater environmental awareness.
  2. Now is not forever.  Great financial equality could lead to different values and mindset that in turn might lead to changed behaviour.  Rather than competing one with another, we might think and act more with and for others, and the whole world at large, with a greater sense of both service and connection with our neighbours and indeed the whole world.  Thus, becoming somewhat richer might not mean that we would behave like the present over-consuming rich.
  3. Related to this the “converge and contract” model, often used at UN level, outlines relations between richer and poorer countries, but is also applicable within societies.  Poor countries must first of all be brought up to an acceptable level of wealth, then all countries can agree to rein in environmentally destructive practices, including those based on fossil-fuels.
  4. The Earth can no longer afford the rich.  Huge current inequality means that the rich are inherently dangerous, often committed to an extractive economic, world-endangering system and status quo, with the connections and influence to maintain it in their own interests because of their wealth (OXFAM Report).  Redistribution from rich to poor could weaken this power that threatens democracy, as well as life on earth.  By “the rich” we can mean both very wealthy individuals and very powerful corporations within the whole system of financialised capitalism. 
  5. A carbon fee (or tax) and dividend could help both to reduce financial inequality and promote carbon savings.  In this scheme, fossil fuels are taxed as close to source as possible.  The revenue raised is repaid to all citizens equally as a dividend.  The rich use carbon resources proportionally far more than average or poorer members of society (e.g they fly much more), and so they pay higher carbon fees. The overall effect is to redistribute from rich to poorer.  Fossil fuels and goods that contain them become more expensive as the tax is included in prices, discouraging consumption of them.   An advantage claimed for carbon tax and dividend is that it will secure “buy-in” for action on climate emergency from most people.  To be effective it must be charged at a high rate as soon as possible in order to provide a kind of basic income (or ingredient of it) and to reduce carbon consumption sufficiently. 

However, we should support the compelling concept of climate justice as an end in itself because it is morally right.  It has been framed in a related manner in terms of Human Rights by the Quaker United Nations Office.  See:  https://quno.org/sites/default/files/resources/QUNO_A%20Negotiators%20Toolkit_May%202018_SPREADS.pdf 

We should argue for a universal system of climate justice that includes future generations (we are stealing from the yet unborn) and rights for all species of life on Earth, together with ecocide as a crime in national and international law, as proposed by the recent French Citizens Convention. https://www.conventioncitoyennepourleclimat.fr/en/

As Quakers, we aim to build the republic of heaven on Earth, no less.

In Friendship

Colin

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Filed under Events, News

NEW DATE: The Climate Emergency in Dacorum – How You Can Speak Truth to Power

17 September 2020 

6.30 pm 

Online by Zoom  

Hemel Hempstead Quakers are holding our first ever online workshop to help build skills to advocate for climate justice. 

We’ll be talking about local government structures and what we can do to get elected representatives to act quicker on the declared Climate Emergency. 

The leader of the workshop will be Rebecca Woo

Rebecca is Campaigns and Advocacy Co-ordinator for Quaker Peace and Social Witness. As a lawyer and campaigner for climate and social justice, her role is to deliver expertise to local Quakers and help build skills in advocacy and lobbying in their communities. 

Why are Quakers holding this event for free? 

Quakers are working to build an energy and economic system that has equality, justice and sustainability at its heart. Find out more here:  https://www.quaker.org.uk/our-work/sustainability/climate-justice-1

 The workshop will be held on Zoom on 17 September 2020, 6.30 pm to 9.30 pm 

Register in advance for this meeting:

You are invited to a Zoom meeting.
When: Sep 17, 2020 06:30 PM London

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAlce2opjwiEtUGA3Qh5haoOrGO8s_h_iZw

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

For more information contact us.

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Filed under Events, News