This month.....

My black car is far more green than my blue car was but it’s not green enough

My first car was a 1979 Vauxhall Chevette. I bought it with over 80 000 miles on the clock and I owned it for 8 years. I took it to the breakers yard in Lincoln about a month before Jane and I left theological college. Its second engine was burning a large amount of oil, the bodywork was quite rusty and with over 150 000 miles on the clock it wasn’t worth investing any more money in it. When I took it to the breakers I was given £30 for it, it felt like being given 30 pieces of silver for betraying an old friend.

In my family we all keep petrol books recording the date, milage, volume of fuel purchased and the cost of the fuel and yes I transfer all this data onto a spreadsheet (doesn’t everyone do that?). So I know that my Chevette averaged just under 30 mpg in the years I owned it. In the last few years it was always ‘exciting’ driving down the M11 to Chelmsford to visit Jane’s parents as the car would slow down to about 45mph on every hill. It really needed a new carburettor but I really couldn’t afford one on a student grant.

My present car, was purchased with 5 000 miles on the clock and it now has 157 000 miles. Yes it now burns a little bit of oil but the body work is good and I’ve had no mechanical problems, it’s on the first engine. In the time I’ve owned it it’s averaged just over 60 mpg and compared to my old Chevette it’s a rocket and actually more fun to drive.

I bought my Aygo because it was the most fuel efficient car I could get at the time (avoiding diesel for emission reasons), its done more than twice the number of miles per gallon that my Chevette did mainly because computer controlled fuel injection gives a far more accurate mix of fuel and air to the engine. It’s also why so many small petrol engines are producing so much power now a days.

Unless I have to replace my Aygo quickly because of a mechanical failure I’m hoping that it will be the last fossil fueled car that I will buy. I’ve no exact plans at the moment but I’ve been amazed at what an modern electric car can do.

Last month Joanna introduced us to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent book for this year; “Saying Yes to Life” which many of us will have been reading over the last few weeks (more details elsewhere in the magazine) and which I hope is engaging people outside the Church too. It uses the days of creation from the first creation story in Genesis to structure our thoughts during Lent.

Since last month’s letter was writen The General Synod of the Church of England met between 10th and 13th February. One of the topics that was discussed was climate change and what the Church of England can do. It was propossed that the CofE should committ itself to net-zero carbon emissions by 2045. This propossal was amended by a propossal to change the date to the far more ambitious target of 2030 and it was this resolution that was passed. So the motion was:

That this Synod, recognising that the global climate emergency is a crisis for God’s creation, and a fundamental injustice, and following the call of the Anglican Communion in ACC Resolutions A17.05 and A17.06,

(a) call upon all parts of the Church of England, including parishes, BMOs [Bishop Mission Orders], education institutions, dioceses, cathedrals, and the NCIs [National Church Institutions], to work to achieve year on year reductions in emissions and urgently examine what would be required to reach net zero emissions by 2030 in order that a plan of action can be drawn up to achieve that target;

(b) request reports on progress from the Environment Working Group and the NCIs every three years beginning in 2022 and;

(c) call on each Diocesan Synod, and cathedral Chapter, to address progress toward net zero emissions every three years.

This is an ambitious goal but I’m gald that General Synod is doing what it can to encourage us to move to a position where our CO2 emisions are neutral. By the very nature of the Church of England the power lies with the parishes so in the benefice we will need to work out what our response is to this motion; it will inevitably be different for each church. Some will be able to make some simple changes to move to CO2 neutrality, others will have to make some long term plans to get there. DACs (Diocesan Advisory Committee), who manage the legal permissions needed when church building work is to be done, have been discussing some of these issues over the last years and I’m certain that these discussions will become more co ordinated over the next couple of years.

But in the end it’s up to us as individuals to consider what we can do to reduce our CO2 emissions. Perhaps I need to firm up my plans for the future of my Aygo and what will I do with it when I do change car? What would be the most ecologically friendly action? Also at some point in the next decade Jane and I need to think about retirement housing, presuming that we buy how high up on our wish list will be environmental impact. Well just because of running costs I hope it will be high on the list.

I do quite a lot of ‘green’ things at the moment, but I’ve got a long way to travel to be CO2 neutral. It’s a huge challenge but actually I think a CO2 neutral world sounds rather fun; have you seen how fast and electric car can excellerate, have you stayed in a modern well insulated house…

Wishing us all a CO2 neutral future; oh go on then, let’s aim for CO2 negative!

Richard Curtis