Over the past year one of Birmingham Friends of the Earth’s projects, Faith and Climate Change, has been a finalist with a national competition, the Big Green Challenge.
This competition has been seeking an innovative project that is sustainable, engages with a community and delivers measurable reductions in carbon. We are one of ten projects around the country that have been working within this remit for the past 12 months. Other Big Green Challenge projects include Greening the Isle of Eigg, Low Carbon West Oxford and Waste Oil Recycling in Prisons.
Faith and Climate Change was launched in 2006 to work with people of faith in Birmingham, supporting responses to the environmental challenges of the day and climate change. Following our initial conference we concentrated on our Faith Ambassadors programme, providing skills and support to passionate individuals dedicated to living sustainably. Over the past year we have expanded our programme to develop the skills base of the project. We have held six training events including energy efficiency, environmental audits of community buildings and small-scale renewable projects. A highlight was in May when we took a group of people to the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales to see energy efficiency and renewable energy in action.
A few examples of the resulting work have included: churches applying for eco congregation awards and installing insulation in their buildings; and Muslim communities organising street clean-ups and holding events during Islam Awareness Week. We are now working with a Gurdwara who are interested in composting.
As well as skills and training we have held events such as the annual Organic Iftar, where women have come together during Ramadan to share the breaking of the fast with locally sourced and organic produce. This provides an opportunity to hear about other areas such as the vegan diet and the recent initiative of meat free Mondays.
I believe that climate change is the biggest threat we face. I was once told that, to tackle it as a society, we need to work out a way to reach every individual. I see this project as one way to reach a group of people inspired by their faith to care for creation.