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Salvos align with Earth Day theme


Saturday 22 April 2023 ... Earth Day.
By PETER McGUIGAN

Today is Earth Day, and this year’s challenge from the Earth Day movement is critical for humanity in the face of global environmental decline: ‘Invest In Our Planet – Act (boldly), Innovate (broadly), Implement (equitably)’.


As part of a responsibility assigned to humankind by God, The Salvation Army’s International Positional Statement ‘Caring for the Environment’ strongly aligns with Earth Day’s call to action. The statement opens with this sentiment by declaring that The Salvation Army believes people are made in the image of God, who has entrusted us to reflect the personality of God by caring for the Earth and everything in it.


The statement then pinpoints “environmental degradation as one of the most pressing issues facing the world today, affecting us all” and that “the very survival of humanity depends on the health of the whole ecosystem”.


In addition to being compelled by the lived experience of humans, The Salvation Army has accepted the scientific evidence of climate change and has called for “action on all levels to lessen the effects of environmental damage”. It is committed to sustainable environmental practices, which it believes are now urgent “to safeguard the integrity” of the earth as created by God.


Making it happen – locally


In Australia, the Salvos are committed nationwide to remedial action towards reversing environmental decline. For example, right now, The Salvation Army is exploring introducing electric vehicles to its fleet, which already comprises a significant number of hybrid cars.


One significant commitment it has made is to transition its properties across Australia from carbon-based energy to solar power. A 15-year renewable energy partnership with AGL was announced last November in which the energy supplier will install solar energy systems at more than 850 Salvation Army sites. The goal is to reduce the Salvos’ greenhouse emissions by at least 17,500 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.


It would also generate substantial savings on running costs, noted Chief Secretary Colonel Winsome Merrett as she launched the project, thereby freeing up additional funds to resource the Salvos’ front-line mission in Australia.


The first site commissioned was in Coburg, Victoria, and significant work has been done to progress the project nationally in the last five months. In an update provided this week, the Salvos’ Environmental Projects Coordinator Elyse Anderson said that the Army’s current solar capacity is around 2.15 megawatts (MW) and that 134 sites had been completed.


“Over the coming months, around 4.02 MW will be installed on commercial sites,” she confirmed, “bringing us to a total of 6.17 MW.”


As well as the Salvos’ mission sites, Elyse reported that solar installations in several Salvation Army officer’s quarters had been completed in the Northern Territory and South Australia. These had been the result of government rebates that were no longer available. Future residential installations would be a part of the partnership between The Salvation Army and AGL.


“As with many other industries and projects,” she explained, “the solar rollout has been affected by the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, with supply chain issues for materials such as panels and inverters causing delays for key components. Australia has also witnessed a significant increase in demand for solar, which further affects the availability of materials, as well as the availability of qualified installers.”


It is anticipated that commercial installations will be completed by August 2023, allowing the primary focus of the project to shift to officer and retired officer accommodation.


The joint venture with AGL will also position The Salvation Army to decarbonise its mobile outreach services through trial battery storage and electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at select locations across Australia.


Making it happen – globally


Globally, The Salvation Army is encouraging all citizens across the world – including its own 1.8 million members, more than 100,000 employees and hundreds of thousands more volunteers – to adopt multiple approaches to environmental stewardship in their day-to-day lives. Writing in the organisation’s 2023 Year Book, Environment Officer Major Heather Poxon said that the Army’s environmental practices are guided by the acronym CREATOR:


Consumption – Aim to reduce consumption, reduce waste wherever possible and consider environmental impacts during procurement processes;

Recycling – Ensure, wherever possible, disposed of items are recycled;

Education – Seek to understand and promote the biblical context of environmental stewardship;

Advocacy – Encourage Salvation Army entities to engage with global/local policymakers, both internal and external, on environmental issues;

Transport – Reduce travel where possible, particularly air travel, move towards ‘greener’ fleet vehicle options and consider the environmental impact of travel when proposed trips are evaluated;

Offsetting – Where carbon emissions are inevitable, carbon offsetting schemes that benefit Salvation Army entities should be explored and supported;

Renewable energy – Use renewable energy sources where possible.


Nations, states, communities, families and individuals – no matter where we may call home – would do well right now to listen to the heartbeat of both the earth and its maker:


“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.

The world and all its people belong to him. For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.” (Psalm 24:1-2. NLT)

 

To access Earth Day resources, go to https://www.earthday.org/

To read The Salvation Army Caring for the Environment statement, go to CARING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT

The Salvation Army Year Book 2023, Salvation Books, London 2023, available at Amazon Kindle edition and Kobo edition

 


A New Day

Peter McGuigan’s new book, A New Day: Writing During the Pandemic on Relationships, Responsibility and Spiritual Renewal contains 11 chapters reflecting on the possibility of ‘a new day’ for humanity in our post-pandemic experience. The book includes stunning landscape photography by Peter’s son, Gareth McGuigan, that depicts the concept of a new day visually. There are also prayers and reflection questions to help readers go deeper.



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