A new initiative responding to the Christian community’s concern around climate change will see thousands of people across the UK encouraged to switch their homes and churches to electricity from renewable sources. Launched on Ash Wednesday, February 10th, the Big Church Switch, facilitated by Christian Aid and Tearfund, will start inviting hundreds of thousands of Christians to switch energy suppliers, to urge their churches to follow suit, and to celebrate those churches and individuals who have already made the switch.
Christians of all denominations are increasingly linking climate change with their faith’s call to care for creation and the world’s most vulnerable people. The Big Church Switch offers them a very practical way to channel consumer power to renewable energy and show the government that clean energy must be central to the effort to address climate change.
The project will pool the buying power of thousands of individuals and use that combined consumer force to leverage green deals with energy providers. A new website www.bigchurchswitch.org.uk will provide information for people considering making the switch, to make the process as easy as possible.
Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, who leads on environmental issues for the Church of England, said, “The Big Church Switch is a simple, practical, good idea. It supports the move to renewable energy. If Lent is about renewing our lives in response to the love of God here is a way to follow. You can do it, and so will I.”
The campaign is also being backed by the Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Manchester the Bishop of Guildford, Andrew Watson and the Bishop of Truro, Tim Thornton.
Power stations generate around one-quarter of all the UK’s emissions of the gases that cause climate change, so shifting to electricity generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar will send a strong signal to governments and businesses that churches are prepared to lead the way and that renewables rather than fossil fuels are the future.
Christian Aid’s Head of Advocacy, Laura Taylor, said: “The public want clean energy and are willing to take action themselves by switching suppliers. But to make the big shift to a low carbon future happen, individuals and communities can only do so much before it’s up to the Government to change the whole system and drive the energy market to 100% clean energy. So today we’re saying to the Government: we’re switching to low carbon energy, now you must switch the country’s energy from fossil fuels to renewables.
“The congregation at my own local church, Epsom Baptist Church, wanted warm actions not just warm words, so we are going to put our faith into action by switching as part of this movement. I encourage every church to join the campaign.”
Ben Niblett, Tearfund Senior Campaigner said: “Tearfund are excited about the Big Church Switch. The UK church has a vital role in overcoming poverty and inequality in a way which doesn’t cost the earth and lasts for generations to come. Switching is a great way for Christians to love our neighbours and show the government we want more action on climate change, like investment in clean, renewable energy.
‘’Christians care about our neighbours in the UK and around the world being hit by climate change – we’re seeing more floods, more droughts, and more people going hungry – so we think this will strike a chord.’’
Offices of the Lutheran Church and Quakers in Britain are amongst those who have already switched to 100% renewable tariffs.
For more information about the Big Church Switch, visit www.bigchurchswitch.org.uk.