Love in Action – Green Guardians
Be Inspired Meeting
Thursday 10th October 2019
On Thursday 10th October the Green Guardians, part of the Cathedral’s Love in Action group, hosted the ‘Be Inspired: A Panel Discussion on climate change’. Around 80 members of the Brentwood Cathedral Parish gathered to hear from Paul Jeater, Edward de Quay, Libby Abbot and Chris Hossack about climate change and what we can do as individuals to tackle it.
Paul Jeater, Chairman of Ingatestone and Frynerning Parish Council and the Co-ordinator of the Eastern Region Green Party, talked about the facts of climate change and how we can already see the physical effects of it. However, he highlighted that we should be hopeful in the face of climate change as human beings are resourceful and we have the capability to overcome many challenges.
Edward de Quay, who is the environment advisor to the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, gave parishioners an insight to the impact of the Catholic church at the national and diocesan levels. He stressed that we as individuals also have a personal responsibility in addressing climate change.
Libby Abbot, Campaign Officer at CAFOD, shared her experiences when she visited Fiji and the effects of climate change she saw there. She also stressed the importance of speaking to our local representatives about climate change.
Chris Hossack, Leader of Brentwood Borough Council, informed parishioners about environmental initiatives in Brentwood that have happened, are happening or are going to happen. The borough council is working towards reducing Brentwood’s carbon emissions by installing more electric vehicle charging points, earmarking funding for companies with ‘green’ ideas and working with Essex Wildlife Trust to plant more trees to aid carbon reabsorption. The borough council is also prioritising businesses that are more conscious of single-use plastics when allocating procurement jobs to public services. To help the litter in the area, the borough is going to introduce an educational programme to stop littering and issue tougher enforcement over fly-tipping. There are also plans to introduce green technology into housing policy, for example the use of solar panels.
The discussion was then opened up to member of the public. Parishioners asked thought-provoking questions and also shared their insights with the panel.
When a parishioner asked whether the Church has been too timid in addressing climate change, Mr de Quay responded that the Church had in fact not been apprehensive about addressing climate change. He added that the Church has been out-spoken about the issue since the 1970s. He acknowledged though that it has struggled to get Laudato Si implemented by many countries and that this needed more work. Acknowledging that the Catholic Church is a global one, Ms Abbot added that many priests in developing countries were very aware of climate change as they can see the effects of it regularly, however, they are often not given the platform to speak about these issues. She stated that CAFOD’s work is to figure out “how can we help them to have their voices heard”.
Another parishioner asked what can be done to deter people from driving large SUVs in the town centre and instead walk or use local transport. Councillor Hossack replied that there “needs to be social pressure” for people not to drive into the town centre, especially if they live nearby. He mentioned that ‘car-free’ days in Brentwood would be a feasible idea but it needed momentum and that the Church would be in the best place to drive this initiative forward. Councillor Hossack also added that there is an enforcement issue when asking people to drive less as it is very difficult to enforce car restrictions. For example, it would take a lot of police officers to inspect people’s licenses to check that they live an appropriate distance away to justify driving into school or into the town centre. A parishioner in the audience shared some practical solutions to address this issue, such as encouraging car-shares to school and even using an ANPR system to detect the address of car users.
A parishioner brought up the need for radical changes to our lifestyles if we were to meet the target that Government set of net zero emissions by 2050. These changes would include not driving cars and not using airplanes to travel. However, Mr Jeater replied that “70% of people in the country don’t fly – it’s just a few” and it is important to examine why these people are flying and whether they can reduce their travel by adopting modern technologies. For example, many business people fly to attend meeting in other countries, sometimes even fly domestically, when these meetings could be conducted online through modern technology. Ms Abbot reiterated that there is no need to despair and feel guilt in our everyday lives as about 100 corporations in the world are responsible for 71% of carbon emissions. While this does not mean we should all become complacent, Mr de Quay emphasised that environmental initiatives are important on the individual level but if communities come together for the environment, we can form a more inclusive community through initiatives such as car-sharing.
If you would like to find out more about the event, or join the Green Guardians in further initiatives, please get in touch by emailing: