Carbon-conscious Religious aim to reduce eco-footprint

Catholic Religious Australia is aiming to reduce carbon emissions by negotiating a bulk purchase of hybrid motor vehicles as well as by installing solar panels on church facilities.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the national body Catholic Religious Australia, representing 8,500 nuns, brothers and priests, plans to negotiate a bulk purchase of hybrid vehicles to replace the religious orders' current car fleets.

As well as reducing carbon emissions, the religious congregations hope to support the local manufacture of hybrid cars so they become more affordable.

At least one Queensland order has bought two hybrid cars to evaluate petrol consumption and carbon emissions during their yearly travels.

Other congregations wanted to buy hybrid cars, but found them too expensive.

The diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes bought a hybrid car two years ago. Bishop Chris Toohey, chairman of Catholic Earthcare, said the car was economical and reliable, but not ideal for long distances. The hybrid car was very much a personal choice, he said.

"When you are passing a road train it gets a bit hairy, and we have to take it all the way to Dubbo to get it serviced."

The price of hybrid cars had been the main stumbling block, said Sr Sharon Price, executive director of NSW Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes, which put forward the plan for bulk purchase.

"Leaders of religious congregations are asking themselves what they can do to promote action to address climate change.

The orders believe their collective purchasing power will be even greater for solar heating if panels are installed on the roofs of convents and all Catholic residential, aged care homes and hospitals.

They say that a shift to green technology is entirely consistent with the church's ethos of lessening humankind's impact on the earth.

By making an ecological commitment, the orders wanted to encourage simple living and "invite many of our friends and the wider community to an ongoing sensitivity to the need for action to avoid future catastrophe".

Sr Sharon, a nun with the Sisters of Mercy, said: "We believe the more call for these items to be manufactured in Australia, the more demand there will be for these items to be manufactured in Australia, and the more demand the cheaper it becomes."

Religious orders look above for ways to reduce carbon (Sydney Morning Herald, 27/7/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Religious Australia
Bishop Christopher Toohey (Catholic Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes)
Catholic Earthcare Australia
Carbon footprint (Wikipedia)

Vatican signs up for a carbon offset forest (CathNews, 13/7/07)
Worms tackle environment at Korean "Green Church" festival (CathNews, 8/6/07)
Vatican goes solar (CathNews, 28/5/07)
Green pope says save Amazon (CathNews, 14/5/07)

27 Jul 2007