26 June 2007

Giant 'carbon footprint' to spark debate at Methodist Conference

The Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) will be using a red, two metre high 'carbon footprint' at this year's Methodist Conference to highlight the danger to developing countries posed by climate change. The charity will be challenging Conference representatives to measure their own carbon footprints and to act to reduce them. As more people commit to action throughout the Conference, the footprint will gradually turn green.

MRDF Director Kirsty Smith said: "The average Briton is responsible for ten times more carbon emissions than someone in El Salvador, and up to a hundred times more than someone in parts of Africa like Mali or Niger. Poor countries, where MRDF partner organisations work, are already feeling the impact of climate change: rainfall patterns are changing, drought is increasingly severe and extreme weather is more likely. This Conference, we must face up to the impact that our lifestyles and decisions have on the world's poorest people and take positive action."

The Conference will debate a resolution entitled 'caring for creation in the face of climate change' which encourages every part of the Methodist Church to monitor and reduce its carbon emissions. "MRDF believes that by working together Methodists can take a lead in tackling climate change through political action and personal choices," continued Ms Smith. "It's time we stood up and were counted." To help Conference representatives get started, energy-saving starter kits will be available from MRDF in a limited edition bag made from re-used Indian newspapers.

MRDF will also be launching its Harvest Pack at the Conference, which shows how MRDF is helping farmers in El Salvador to achieve a Harvest, despite widespread environmental damage and the increasing effects of climate change. The free pack includes all-age activities, colour posters, worship materials and stories of 'Harvest against the odds'. Alejandro Martinez is pictured with his tomato crop on the cover. He is one of the many small-scale farmers who have been trained by MRDF in low-cost, environmentally friendly farming techniques. Although he is now able to reap an improved harvest without harming the environment, disrupted rainfall patterns caused by climate change continue to threaten his livelihood in the future. MRDF hopes that churches across the UK will use this pack at Harvest for fundraising events, special services and to raise awareness about environmental damage and climate change.

Outgoing Vice President of Conference, Dudley Coates, will also be lending his support to MRDF at Conference. He will arrive in his walking boots, fresh from completing a sponsored 100-mile trek along the South West Coast Path.

MRDF will be thanking Conference delegates for making small miracles possible in the world's poorest countries over the past year - by offering chocolate, vanilla and lemon thank you cup cakes - kindly donated by a Trustee.

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