Green your life

Published October 1, 2010

Lifestyles of Canadian Anglicans are damaging the environment, say Lynn McDonald of Just Earth. Photo: Marites N. Sison

It’s not enough to green your church. Anglicans need to green their lives, too.

So says Lynn McDonald of Just Earth, an environmental justice coalition.

“The damage we do in our church buildings is miniscule compared to how we live our lives,” says McDonald, a university professor and former MP. “It’s what we do in our homes, in our travels, in our jobs, in our recreation [that matters].”

Just Earth has urged the Anglican Church of Canada to take a lead role in pressing the federal government for a comprehensive plan to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our greenhouse gas emissions are going up,” notes McDonald. “We don’t have a plan to reduce them and we have an enormous complacency…We feel the church could address [these issues].”

It’s not enough to have green plan “that is merely about energy efficiency or recycling,” she adds. “If it’s not geared to reduction in greenhouse gas emissions [it’s] not doing the right thing,”

McDonald urges the church to follow in the footsteps of the United Church of Canada, which joined the Climate Action Network (CAN) Canada to address climate change. CAN Canada is part of a worldwide network of organizations working “to limit human-induced climate change.”

McDonald and her group have called on church leadership to implement the resolution on climate change approved last June by General Synod. The resolution states that General Synod will join faith communities and secular groups in urging the Canadian government to adopt a climate action plan with firm targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by “25 to 40 per cent based on 1990 levels.”

Churches offer a unique “faith perspective” that could “really help to energize the climate change movement,” says McDonald. “I just don’t think we can stand apart and say, ‘Oh, but this is just not up to us.’ ” Instead, she insists, Canadian Anglicans are part of the problem. “Our lifestyles are damaging the environment. We have to be part of the solution…with other people. We don’t have the expertise to do it alone.”

The church can play an important educational role, notes McDonald, adding that Just Earth provides training sessions to equip those who want to pay a visit to their MP. “We are urging people to tell their MPs we need a comprehensive climate change plan,” she says.

Church leaders and members can play an important advocacy role, too, says McDonald. Change will not come “until politicians see that if they don’t change, they’re going to be in trouble. This is our great movement. We require people to have sympathy broader than they’ve ever had before… and to act on it.” Ω

For more information about Just Earth, visit


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