Press releases
News archive
Selected books
ARC Home > News and Resources > News archive:

Church of South India - eight actions to combat climate change

August 28, 2008:

The Rt Rev Thomas Samuel, Bishop of CSI. Photo from CSI's website:

The Church of South India has issued a practical statement on its planned approach to climate change, following a two day Eco-leadership training programme held last month at the CSI Synod Centre, Chennai.

The statement recognizes that gobal warming will harm people all around the world, especially the poor – and that this is a globally unfair situation – whereby “the very group of people that has least contributed to the genesis and intensification of a problem is being placed in a position where it must bear its most severe consequences” and that the world economy is still driven by motivations of greed and materialism.

In consequence, the Church has made a commitment to take eight immediate actions, together with its congregations - and it is also working with ARC on putting together a Seven Year Plan to be launched in November 2009. In addition, all eco-leadership and other environmental training programmes from now on are to be based on the Church's version of the Seven Year Plan.

“Every faith tradition calls on its followers to protect what God has given us. Scripture tells us, “The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Ps 24:1). Our energy resources are a gift from the God who created us all. God’s message to us at the time of creation was that we are to “till and to tend the garden” (Gen 2:15). What this means to us, as people of faith, is that we have a moral obligation to make responsible choices that protect and preserve God’s creation. Energy conservation and efficiency and production of clean energy are means of practicing faithful and responsible stewardship,” the statement says.

The Eight Immediate Actions are:

Planting mangroves is one of the eight immediate actions CSI are encouraging their congregation to take to reduce green house gases. Photo from
1 Green Cover:

Church members will plant as many trees as they can to improve the green cover, Emphasis will be given in promoting the planting of Vetiver, Jatropha and Mangroves which will reduce green house gases. These plants help in improving ground water recharging.

2.Green lighting:

The church will promote the use of compact fluroscent lamps (CFLs) which use one-third of the power than conventional bulbs. Through India the use of these could lead to reductions of 10,000 MW of electricity p/a.

3.Green Fencing:

Instead of concrete compound walls that consume loads of cement and brick, not to mention steel (all huge carbon-emitters) bamboo and vetiver hedges are more eco-friendly and act as carbon sinks. The church promotes the use of bamboo and vetiver in fencing around churches and on school and college campuses.

4.Green Water Charging:

Groundwater accounts for nearly 40 per cent of India’s water resources, meeting 85 per cent of the rural requirement and 50 per cent of urban and industrial needs. But most states are experiencing an alarming fall in water-tables as groundwater is being over-exploited. India gets an average of 600 mm of rainfall a year. This means a total precipitation of 4,000 billion metric tonne—a mini sea of water deluging us every year. Yet, as much of 75 per cent of this is lost due to run-offs. The Church is promoting the digging of mud pits on all church land and on the land of its members, in order to harvest rainwater and also recharge the ground water.

5 Green Equipment:

The Church commits to promote the use of energy-efficient equipment.

6. Green cooking and lighting:

Community biogas plants are back in business. Cow dung and human waste is used as cooking gas and for lighting in villages. It helps improve sanitary conditions and ends the search for firewood. The church is promoting the use of bio gas plants: already a snack centre run in Kottayam by the Women’s Christian Fellowship has become one of the models for biogas operations.

7.Green Home Audits:

The Church is promoting a green audit in all homes.

8. Advocacy:

Now that the Church is itself taking postive action on the environment, it is able to encourage others to do the same. It is taking on an advocacy role, and where its Bishops and lay followers have influence in local and national politics.

The CSI is making the following requests for local and national government action:

* SAVE WETLANDS: There are over 27,000 wetlands across the country that are rich in biodiversity, recharge groundwater, preserve flora and fauna and are a source of livelihood for those who live around them. But these are fast disappearing because of growing urbanisation and industrialisation. They also face the danger of heavy pollution from sewage and industrial units. There is an urgent need to save these water bodies. After making an inventory and assessing their condition, the state governments must take steps to restore them.

* IMPROVE PUBLIC TRANSPORT: The principal option for reducing energy use in our cities is to ensure that mass transportation is efficient, comfortable and reasonable. This would ensure that fewer people use cars or other forms of individual transport. By using CNG as a fuel in buses for public transport, emission levels could be significantly reduced. Metro rail services which run on electricity will also be a big help.

* TAP THE SUN Solar power plants are truly going mega, both in size and output. Plants that can generate over 150 MW of power are coming up in several countries. Though it does require heavier capital investment, solar power plants are increasingly becoming viable with the rise in oil prices. India should collaborate with major countries to build numerous such plants across the country.

* WIND ENERGY: In terms of renewable energy, few can beat the wind, except of course, the sun. Wind power has been growing in India which now stands at around 8,000 MW, making the country the fourth largest producer in the world.

* ECO-FRIENDLY BUILDINGS Eco-friendly buildings are the latest trend in India. Companies are using recycled materials to erect structures. Air conditioners are being fitted with intelligent sensors to regulate cooling according to the number of people in the room. The Governments should promote green buildings.

* SAVING RIVERS The condition of India’s rivers is a barometer of the state of the environment. The rivers are dying. Most are highly polluted with domestic sewage, industrial effluents and an erratic waterflow. With global warming, the stress levels on the country’s key rivers will only exacerbate. Both, the Centre and the states will have to launch serious drives to revive the ecosystems.


Link here to learn more about ARC's partnership with the Church of South India, from April 2008.

Link here for the CSI statement about the environment in full.

Link here for the CSI eco-audit list.

Link here for more information about the Madhya Kerala diocese.

Link here for more information about the diocese's ecological work.

Link here for general background to the Church of South India - which is the result of the union of churches of varying traditions: Anglican, Methodist, Congregational, Presbyterian, and Reformed and which was inaugurated in September 1947.

Link here for the original Christian statement on the environment launched at Assisi in 1986.

Link here for a Catholic theological statement about the environment.

Link here for an Orthodox statement about the environment.

Link here for more Christian news stories.

Link here to learn more about ARC's work with the faiths developing seven year plans to make generational changes on the issues of climate change and the natural environment.

Link here for the CSI website.

< previous 
ARC site map
Related pages

Church of South India
"We refuse to succumb to despair: remember Abraham who hoped against hope. There is hope for the future. If we can live out this vision in our daily lives and can communicate it to others in word and action then we can play a powerful role in creating an attitude of reverence for the earth." A powerful statment from the Church of South India.
September 19, 2008:
Green guide for Muslim households published in time for Ramadan
British Muslims have published a new booklet explaining the impact of climate change using Islamic references and explaining why Muslims must do their bit for the environment.