Bright Now: reflecting on the first three months


As we reach the New Year, we are now at the point where the Bright Now campaign has been going for just over three months. (That’s publicly at least – the launch was 20th September. It’s been several years in the planning!)

It seemed like a good time to reflect on what has been a rather whirlwind few months.

The achievements 

We were hugely encouraged by hearing of two institutional church bodies that shared our vision on disinvestment. Shortly before we launched Bright Now, Southwark Diocese announced they had passed a resolution calling on the General Synod of the Church of England to consider disinvestment from fossil fuels. It is expected that this will be debated early in 2014.

And only weeks after our launch, Quakers in Britain announced they would disinvest from companies engaged in extracting fossil fuels – and acknowledged Bright Now as a factor in their decision.

Then there was the Fossil Free tour, where we partnered with 350.org and People & Planet to spread the word around the UK about the worldwide disinvestment movement. The Tour travelled from Edinburgh to London via Birmingham and took the message of climate maths and fossil fuel divestment to thousands of people. If you missed the tour you can see the film recording of the London event here. Many were inspired and excited by the tour, including Christians and students, and as a result there are now almost 40 university fossil free campaigns. (See their end of year video here.)

Some Operation Noah Board members met Bill McKibben of 350.org, who spoke of the need for Christians to bring a faith perspective into the arguments. Operation Noah provided Christian speakers for each of the dates on the tour, which proved a wonderful witness. They were received very positively, with comments including ‘inspiring’, ‘really moving conviction’ and ‘doing Christianity right’.

We’ve also made contact with like-minded people around the world. We are in contact with campaigns in Australia, New Zealand (where five dioceses in New Zealand also voted to disinvest in September) and the US with a view to sharing ideas etc and will be meeting via Skype in early January.

Challenging – and being challenged

One of the three aims of the Bright Now campaign is for the Churches to take part in the debate on the ethics of investment in fossil fuels. This certainly seems to be happening!

During Ethical Investment Week, we were invited by the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR) to take part in a debate on the subject ‘Church Investment: witness or whitewash?’  Board member Sunniva Taylor spoke about our campaign and the message was warmly received by the audience.

Those bodies concerned with church investment were quick to react to our campaign. First, the Church Investors Group released a ‘Position Statement on Climate Change’ arguing for stakeholder engagement over disinvestment. We thought carefully before releasing our response to this, arguing that this approach will never make fossil fuel companies change their current business model.

Most recently, we have also challenged the EIAG (Ethical Investment Advisory Group), which recently produced a survey ostensibly aimed at gathering feedback on Church of England investments but apparently biased towards a particular result. Ours was not the only voice challenging the survey, which was received with dismay by many climate campaigners.

We continue, too, to challenge ourselves on how we approach the campaign. Our launch was carefully thought out through years of prayer and planning, and the campaign continues to evolve.

As with most campaigns, there is much going on out of the public eye. We are attempting to engage in dialogue with decision-makers, and to ensure (as much as is in our power) that this is mutually respectful: we are looking for ways we can work together to achieve our goals.

Ultimately, though, we believe that our role is to be prophetic. We live in times where the need for action on climate change is increasingly urgent: we can’t afford to sit back and wait.

As for 2014 – watch this space!

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