Time for Creation, Peacemaking Sunday, South Sudan – 18 September 2016

Neighbours at Work, Climate, Environmental Defenders, Yemen – 12 March 2016

In this week’s prayer email:

  • Short Notes: Climate, Environmental Defenders, Yemen
  • Loving God’s world: our neighbours at work

The need for good work is our focus this week – and it also figures in the week’s Revised Common Lectionary Gospel, which contains the parable of the Prodigal Son. The father’s forgiveness and generosity is manifested primarily in his treatment of his wayward child – but the young man’s musings also suggest that the older man maintains fair relationships with those who work for him: “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger!”

Pray that people in the UK and in other countries may have access to good work with fair remuneration and safe working conditions. And as International Women’s Day approaches, pray especially for increased justice for women in the working world.

Short Notes: Climate, Environmental Defenders, Yemen

  • There’s much that calls for prayer in recent developments around the climate – though also material for thanksgiving. Some commentators have focused on the spike in atmospheric temperatures for February, which soared 0.83 degrees centigrade over normal. While this isn’t the most reliable data, taken in tandem with the low extent of Arctic sea ice , concerns around the Greenland ice sheet, and four prior consecutive months of surface temperatures more than 1 degree over normal, it is a reminder of how urgent it is to take action to limit emissions.Please pray that all the warning signals we are experiencing will inspire governments, businesses and individuals to take action, especially action to speed up the drive for energy efficiency and less carbon-intensive energy generation. In particular:
    • Give thanks for the way that numerous EU governments pressed this week for the EU to up its emissions reduction targets in response to the Paris Agreement – and pray that such arguments are translated into action.
    • Give thanks, too, that China, which set energy consumption caps this week, is progressing more rapidly than expected in increasing energy efficiency – pray that this trend continues.
    • Pray for a meeting of the Canadian Prime Minister and US President this Thursday, from which news of further climate initiatives is anticipated.
    • And give thanks for the success in the UK of the Big Church Switch campaign, which is calling churches and individual Christians to change to renewable energy suppliers.
  • The assassination of Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres has drawn attention to the disturbing level of violence against people seeking to protect sensitive lands and waters and to ensure that indigenous peoples are properly consulted about projects that may affect their territory.  Global Witness states that killings of environmental defenders averaged slightly more than 2 a week in 2014.Berta Cáceres, recently the winner of a prestigious international environmental award, was protesting a series of hydropower dams for which there had not been appropriate consultation; three of her colleagues had already been murdered, and the government had not acted on international calls to offer her protection.Please:
    • Pray for all who mourn Cáceres.
    • Pray for the safety of her colleague Gustavo Castro, who was with her and was injured in the assassination, and for wisdom and safety for environmental and human rights defenders worldwide.
    • Pray for an end to the culture of impunity in Honduras and many other countries, which creates an atmosphere in which violence can flourish.
    • And pray that governments everywhere will have an understanding of and respect for creation and the rights of indigenous peoples.Action Point: There’s a Spanish-language petition asking for protection for Gustavo Castro here. If you’re comfortable with Spanish, might you sign?
  • The murder of 16 people, including 4 nuns and volunteers, at a nursing home run by the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, Yemen, has provoked shock and condemnation around the world. It is also a reminder of the wider continued toll on civilians of Yemen’s conflict: the UN has recently stated that more than 80% of the Yemeni population is in need of some form of protection or humanitarian assistance.In a statement to the Security Council last week,  the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator said: “The most pressing concern today is the protection of civilians, millions of whom face relentless and often indiscriminate bombing and shelling of urban areas by the parties to the conflict every day … Protected places, such as hospitals, schools and homes continue to be hit by all parties … In the absence of a politically negotiated end to the conflict, the security situation across much of the country is rapidly deteriorating.”He called on the international community “to impress upon the parties to this conflict their obligations to take greater measures to protect civilians, to facilitate unconditional and sustained access to all parts of Yemen” and asked the Council “to press the parties to resume peace talks and agree to a cessation of hostilities.”

    The European Parliament recently called for an EU arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, which stands accused of targeting civilians in its air war against Houthi rebels.

    Please pray:

    • in thanksgiving for the courage and witness of those Christians who have continued to minister in that country despite the personal danger
    • for the safety of Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, a Salesian priest from India, abducted during the attack, and for the superior of the Missionaries of Charity community, who escaped and is under police protection.
    • for all civilians suffering because of the conflict
    • that the international community will continue to press for protection, humanitarian access, and peace talks and will make progress in these areas with all parties to the conflict.

Loving God’s World: Our neighbours at work

What is good work?

This vital question underlies many of our current areas of concern. And this week, Fairtrade Fortnight and International Women’s Day (8 March) offer an interesting opportunity to reflect on it – and on some ways we can express love of God and neighbour in rediscovering the relationships at the heart of work.

In Christian teaching, work in its broadest sense is an integral part of much human life. Many point to the  creation accounts to show just how fundamental: man is put into the Garden of Eden “to work and to keep it,” and the early chapters of Genesis point to the fact that caring for creation and  ‘ruling’ over it as God’s stewards* are part of what makes human beings human.

Indeed, throughout the Old Testament, work is shown to be inherently relational at a number of levels.  Not only are the materials for work – whether physical resources or skills – gifts from God,  to whom we are responsible for our use of them. The law and the prophets also indicate that the right use of them – a use that provides good work –  involves provision for the needs of the self, family and community in a way that respects the humanity and interdependence of all within the community. Workers are to receive fair wages; all are to partake of the Sabbath rest; all are to be protected by the law; every fifty years the Jubilee is to restore all families’ access to the most fundamental resource – land; a certain percentage of the fruits of human labour are to be set aside to give thanks to God and to provide for those who cannot provide for themselves.

And yet, just as sin distorts all relationships, it distorts the relationships of work. The Old and New Testament show us a world in which, despite God’s commandments, people all too quickly prioritise not right relationship in work but the accumulation of power and goods. In place of the ideal, they are withholding workers’ wages, ignoring the Sabbath, pushing the land beyond its capacity, depriving those without power of their due rights, taking advantage of others’ misfortunes to aggregate assets, and hoarding what should be offered to God and others.

We recognise this world. We live in it. And we participate in its injustices, caught up in a system where the products of work are valued, but the people behind them often seem to be seen simply as units of production … and their needs – and the needs of the natural world – are what an economist might call an ‘externality’. And the potential for distorted relationships is amplified as  we become ever less likely personally to know the people who provide the goods and services we use. In particular, globalisation’s attenuated supply chains mean that we are unlikely ever to meet many of the people who grow the crops we eat, respond to the calls we place, or create the clothing and technology we use every day.

So how do we respond?

“Be careful,” the Church of Sweden once warned, “there are people in your shopping trolley.”

The slogan was on one of their posters supporting Fairtrade, and it got at the heart of the matter. Part of our calling as Christians is to refuse to allow ourselves to be focused simply on work’s products and the way they relate to our wants and needs, and instead to care as much as we can for the brothers and sisters whose labour provides them … as Dewi Hughes said, to recognise that our interaction with what people’s work produces makes them the ‘neighbours’ we are commanded to love.

Fair Trade

is one way of doing that. At its heart, Fair Trade is about restoring the human dimension to some of the most historically problematic working and trading relationships – those of small producers selling to often vastly more powerful marketers and retailers. Built into its standards – whether for Fairtrade products or Fair Trade organizations – is a commitment to paying a price for goods that relates to the costs of sustainable production, taking into account both people’s needs and the environment’s. But that’s not all: there’s also a commitment to prepayment so that producers don’t fall into debt, to the honouring of contracts and long-term partnerships, to ensuring safe working conditions and the right of people to organise and have input into their working conditions. There’s a ban on forced labour and a commitment to ending discrimination on the basis of gender. And there are environmental standards, which ensure that products don’t ‘cost the earth.’

When we buy a Fairtrade-labelled product, or any product from a Fair Trade Organization like Traidcraft or CafeDirect or Divine Chocolate, therefore, we’re signalling that we care enough about our neighbour to want to guarantee them ‘good work’.

That’s part of the success of Fair Trade. It’s not just about the roughly 5,000 Fairtrade products and £1.6 billion in Fairtrade retail sales in the UK … or the 1.65 million farmers, workers and producers who benefit from the international Fairtrade market and who last year received over 100 million Euros in Fairtrade premiums (in addition to the price they received for their goods).

It’s not just about the maternity clinics and mobile clinics and new forms of industry and wheelchairs for the elderly and computer classrooms and electrification schemes that Fairtrade has enabled producer groups to fund.

It’s also about the wider change in perceptions. Fair Trade’s growth has shaken conventional economics’ view that we are selfish beings who care only about our wants and price. It’s showed that where people have enough disposable income to have choices, love of neighbour can be a factor in the way we choose to allocate our spending.

Looking more broadly …

what are other ways in which we can look beyond the products of labour to the people involved and help to ensure their wellbeing?

  • The garment industry employs significant numbers of people globally, and there are major issues around safe working conditions, the right to organise, and decent wages. Labour behind the Label, War on Wantand Fashion Revolution  ask us to raise awareness of the people involved in the sector – and to press for better conditions and wages. Could you visit one of their websites and participate in their campaigns?
  • Traidcraft was one of several agencies that led campaigning to get an independent supermarket ‘watchdog’ to monitor major retailers’ treatment of suppliers. They continue to draw attention to the downward pressure supermarkets exert on suppliers, which has a major impact on the people at the bottom of the supply chain both in the UK and in other countries.Recent controversies in this area have focused on UK milk prices, with a parliamentary committee report on farmgate prices noting: “We question assurance from the retail sector that there is no link between the price at which supermarkets sell to their customers and the price supermarkets pay to farmers … the chronic low price of milk sold through supermarkets inevitably disadvantages farmers in the longer term. Supermarkets may choose to sell milk cheaply as a loss leader, but farmers must not be the victims of the supermarket wars currently taking place in the UK. Progress is uneven amongst supermarkets and assurances must be met with action.”Could you check with your supermarket to find out what price they give farmers for milk? Might you support retailers (or special schemes, such as Morrison’s Milk for Farmers) that seek to give a higher amount to farmers?
  • The Living Wage campaign certifies employers who choose to pay their staff a wage that is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK. On their website, you can check to see who is a living wage employer. If an entity with which you regularly interact isn’t one, could you encourage them to become one? If you have a pension, ShareAction has an easy way for you to ask your pension fund to press the companies in which it invests on this topic. You might also want to hold an event to raise awareness of the concept.
  • The right of workers to organise and bargain collectively is enshrined in an international convention which the UK and European countries have all ratified. But not all countries have ratified the convention, and there are many where despite the ratification, those who lead protests against poor working conditions face significant harrassment and threats. The International TUC named ten countries as the world’s worst for systematic violations of workers’ rights: one of these was Colombia. Could you join in Justice for Colombia’s campaign action on behalf of a ‘disappeared’ trade unionist?
  • Two groups which are often subject to injustice in the UK are immigrant domestic workers and care workers. Could you ask members of the House of Lords to support Lord Hylton’s amendments to the Immigration Bill, which are designed to keep immigrant domestic workers from being tied to abusive employers?
  • Support people who are seeking to create good jobs, especially for the most marginalised. Perhaps this is something you can do in your work. Charities are also beginning to work with the private sector: a new initiative from Christian Aid, Traidcraft, Practical Action, Twin and Challenges Worldwide links investors with small and medium enterprises in rural areas that have the potential to grow.

*Many environmental theologians emphasise that the term ‘rule’ or ‘dominion’ would have expressed stewardship  and a duty of care as well as power.

Wildlife and Biodiversity, Syria, Drought, Elections, Fairtrade, Migration – 28 February 2016

In this week’s prayer email:

  • Short Notes: Syria, Southern Africa’s drought, Elections, Fairtrade Fortnight, Europe and migration
  • Loving God’s world: wildlife and biodiversity (World Wildlife Day, 3 March)

Why do bad things happen? It’s a frequent question – and in an attempt to rationalise, people all too frequently blame the victims. If something has gone wrong for them, it must be their fault! But in this week’s  Revised Common Lectionary Gospel, Jesus disputes that analysis. “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans?” he asks – clearly implying that they were not. At the same time, he calls all people to repentance and warns of sin’s destructive consequences.

A complex message! Where today do we see people being blamed for suffering that is not of their making – and how can we help to `comfort and defend them? And where do we see sin which may cause destruction – and how can we help to turn ourselves and others away from it?


Short Notes: Syria, Southern Africa’s drought, Elections, Fairtrade Fortnight, Europe and migration

  • As we write this, the Syrian truce has begun and seems to be holding, despite some violations. Please pray that it may provide a respite for civilians who have been caught in the middle of the fighting. Pray too that it may lead towards moves to establish a stable, just peace.
  • A long-running Southern African drought has been exacerbated by El Niño and is hitting many countries hard: the Guardian ran an article on Mozambique recently, and Al Jazeera did a strong story as well.  Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town also discussed the impact of the drought at an earlier stage in a beautiful and powerful video he did last year for the Mass Lobby of Parliament.A meeting of the Southern African Develoment Community (the Southern African nation states) on Friday estimated that 28 million people were vulnerable and in need of relief. Please pray for an end to the drought. Pray also for those affected by its impacts and those working to mitigate the effects of the impacts.  If you would like to donate to relief efforts, please contact us for options.
  • There were a number of elections at the end of last week – most notably in Iran, which was voting for its parliament and Assembly of Experts, clerics who have the responsibility of choosing the next Supreme Leader should a vacancy arise during the Assembly’s eight-year term. The election was seen as something of a referendum on the reformist President Hassan Rouhani and his recent nuclear deal with the Western powers. Early indications are that, despite the fact that only 200 reformist candidates were allowed to stand, reformist and independent candidates have done well in the parliamentary elections, and no single faction will dominate. Please pray for wisdom for all elected, and that the results help to lead to greater openness, justice and respect for human rights – including freedom of religion – in Iran. (Coverage: Al Jazeera, Daily Star (Lebanon)Financial Times, Guardian, Le Monde)This Tuesday, a number of US states will hold primary elections, voting for delegates to the party conventions that nominate presidential candidates. In a race distinguished thus far by unusually negative campaigning, pray for wisdom and discernment for voters and candidates.
  • Fairtrade Fortnight starts on Monday, with the theme ‘Sit down for breakfast, stand up for farmers’. We’ll be focusing on Fairtrade next week – but please start praying now that the Fairtrade will continue to create positive change for all involved with it, whether as producers, suppliers, retailers or consumers.  Our Fairtrade prayers and resources can be found here.
  • The UK is much concerned with our EU Referendum, but in an editorial on Friday, French newspaper Le Monde warned that the EU’s lack of a collective and coherent policy on migration threatens Europe more generally: “Shocked by the impact of the wave of migration, Europe is fragmenting, breaking up, taking itself apart … [unless there is a major change] historians will without doubt date the beginning of the disintegration of Europe to this matter, and to these years.”The immediate cause of the article was a summit convened by Austria, in which the countries of the ‘Balkan route’ – both EU members and non-EU members – met to work out ways to ‘isolate’ Greece and contain migration within its borders. Greece, Germany, and the European Commission were not informed – and Greece has recalled its ambassador from Austria in protest.  But as Natalie Nougayrède points out, the lack of EU policy coherence results from decisions by – and affects – all countries. And the need for cooperation – for the sake of both refugees’ safety and countries’ stability – is immense.As European ministers prepare to make decisions on border controls and migration policies, please pray for wisdom and discernment on all sides. Pray too for the safety of all who have fled conflict and oppression, whether to Europe or to other parts of the world. And pray for an end to the conflicts and injustices that force people to flee from beloved places and people.

Loving God’s World: Wildlife and biodiversity

World Wildlife Day is 3 March, so for this week, we are focusing on expressing love through care for wildlife and biodiversity.

The Lord said to Job,
Where were you when I laid out the Earth’s foundation… while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
Do you know when the mountain goat gives birth?
Do you observe the calving of the deer?
Who has let the wild ass go free?
Is the wild ox willing to serve you?
Do you give the horse its might?
Is it by your wisdom that the hawk soars?
Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up?
Look at Behemoth, which I made just as I made you. He eats grass like an ox. His limbs are as bars of iron. Under the lotus plant it lies, in the cover of the reeds and in the marsh.
Who has first given to me that I should repay?
Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine.
From Job 38 – 41

The final chapters of the book of Job read as a litany of celebration: God exults in the complexity of his creation and the wonders of his work. The sense of God’s pride, care and intimate knowledge is reflected elsewhere in scripture, for example in the Psalms: “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O LORD” (Psalm 84:3) – and in Jesus’ words: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” Jesus asks. “Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father” (Matthew 10:29).

In his paper on the Bible and Biodiversity, Sir Ghillean Prance says, “The Bible is biodiverse from Genesis to Revelation”. He cites God’s post-flood covenant in Genesis 9 as “the real biblical basis for the preservation of biodiversity”, with its repeated emphasis that God’s covenant is not simply with Noah and his descendants but with “every living creature.” He goes on to explore biodiversity and its preservation in the books of the law, the psalms and proverbs, the major and minor prophets and the New Testament, finding deep wells to draw from. Martin and Margot Hodson echo this view, writing, “the pages of the Bible are buzzing with insects, alive to the song of birds, majestic in their description of trees and awesome in appreciation of the strength of large animals. The Bible contains the names of countless species of trees and animals. There are thirteen different Hebrew words for owls alone and nine for locusts.” (Cherishing the Earth, p. 35)

In his critique of Genesis 1, and in particular the vexed question of what “dominion” over the earth by humankind means, Professor Richard Bauckham writeswhen we get to the creation of humans on the sixth day and we read God’s command to us to have dominion over the creatures, we already know that what God is entrusting to our care is something of priceless value… [O]ne of the things God delights in [is] the sheer, abundant variety of the creatures… We hear of fruit trees of every kind, seed-bearing plants of every kind, sea creatures of every kind, birds of every kind, wild animals of every kind, domestic animals of every kind, creeping things (i.e. reptiles and insects) of every kind. In all, that phrase occurs ten times. This is an account of creation that celebrates biodiversity”. Dominion is therefore taking care of God’s cherished creation and “responsible rule that does not exploit its charges.”

Similarly, in his exploration of the Bible and Biodiversity Reverend Dave Bookless concludes, “This world and all its creatures (human and non-human) belong to God and exist to bring glory to God… Every species matters, irrespective of its usefulness to humanity. Avoidable extinctions damage the integrity of God’s world, erase something of God’s self-revelation in creation, and silence elements of creation’s worship of God. Humanity has a divine vocation in reflecting God’s character towards the animal kingdom through encouraging the flourishing of biodiversity and resisting its depletion. This is both a missional task to be fostered as a special vocation for some, and part of the wider calling of all Christ’s disciples”.

Thus the sheer variety of life on Earth matters for its own sake.

But it is also vital for our own (humanity’s) survival. “Ultimately we rely totally on the ecological connectivity and biodiversity of this beautiful blue pearl in space, the Earth, whose future is in our hands. So we dismiss the needs of other species at our peril”, writes Dr Andrew Gosler, Research Lecturer in Ornithology and Conservation at Oxford University.

That God’s creatures and biodiversity are under threat because of mankind is not in doubt. Whilst the extinction of species is a natural phenomenon, current rates of extinction are vastly in excess of background rates (around a thousand times higher). Such dramatic loss has been described as “defaunation” with scientists arguing that we have entered a new geological epoch, the “anthropocene”.

As do other commentators, the World Wildlife Fund regard habitat loss as the leading cause of biodiversity loss. All types of habitat, from forests to lakes to swamps, have been cleared for industrial development, housing and roads, and exploited for human consumption. Destruction of rainforests and coral reefs has been the greatest source of biodiversity loss; rainforests have been eliminated from 50% of the area on which they formerly existed. The FAO points to the impacts of agriculture on biodiversity over the millennia, with ever-increasing food production driving the conversion of natural habitats into agricultural production. Human population growth is therefore one of the factors impacting biodiversity; pollution (including from synthetic nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizer use) is another.

Climate change is particularly inimical to biodiversity. A 2014 IPCC report highlights the widespread impacts of climate change on many terrestrial, freshwater, and marine species in terms of their altered geographic ranges, seasonal activities, migration patterns, abundances, and species interactions. Whilst it says that, as yet, only a few recent species extinctions can be attributed with high confidence to climate change, it is known that there were significant species extinctions in previous epochs, when natural global climate change was at a slower rate than we are currently experiencing. If global temperatures rise 4oC above pre-industrial levels scientists have projectedthat around 57% of plants and 34% of animals are likely to lose more than half of their present climatic habitat range by the 2080s.

Given this somewhat gloomy assessment, is there anything being done to address biodiversity loss… is there anything more hopeful?

We are currently midway through the UN’s Decade on Biodiversity to implement the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity. This includes the Aichi Biodiversity Targets which address areas such as tackling the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, reducing pressure on biodiversity and promoting sustainability, and safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity. In addition, Goals 14 and 15 of the new Sustainable Development Goals set out a number of specific targets which would protect biodiversity (for example, reducing marine pollution, establishing marine and coastal conservation areas, halting deforestation, reducing the degradation of natural habitats) – with the overall ambition of halting biodiversity loss.

In his recent paper, “We have 15 years to halt biodiversity loss, can it be done?” Dr Richard Pearson, Reader of Biodiversity at UCL, cites several reasons for hope. These include: protected-area coverage is increasing globally, sustainable practices in industries such as fishing and forestry are becoming established, responsible investment is becoming more mainstream, 184 countries have established National Biodiversity strategies and Action Plans, and there are specific conservation success stories. He concludes, “It will take time to slow and turn around the juggernaut that is biodiversity loss, and everyone must pull in the same direction in order to shift course. The period over which the new SDGs will run, from now until 2030, will be absolutely crucial for making this happen. There are indications that things are beginning to turn around. Hints that we can do this. It would be a big mistake to dismiss the biodiversity target as a fairy tale”.

So what are some of the practical actions we can take, so that we don’t unwittingly contribute to the problem? How can we show our love for God’s wonderful world and respect for his creatures? As for last week, a definitive list is beyond the capacity of this short piece; instead, we offer here some “top tips” – several of which were kindly provided by colleagues with a passion in this area.

Reduce your ecological footprint:

  • You can calculate your ecological footprint and get a personalised action plan here: the One Plant Living Challenge.
  • In his paper, 10 things you can do to help biodiversity, Dr David Hooper emphasises the prime importance of reducing consumption. Making the connection between demand for new resources, habitat conversion, energy usage and extra waste going to landfill might be obvious, but I (Elizabeth) always need reminding…

Plastics:

  • Reduce use of plastic. There are lots of ideas here: my plastic-free life and here: Two years of living plastic-free, how I did it – both from people who’ve been trying to go plastic-free. For a specifically UK perspective, see here: Plastic Free UK.
  • Stop using products with plastic microbeads in them. These tiny non-biodegradable particles are added to a host of personal care products (including toothpaste) and end up in the “Plastic Soup” in the world’s oceans – where they pass along the marine food chain. For Smartphone users an App is available which you can use to scan barcodes to find out whether the product contains microbeads. Greenpeace has recently launched a petition urging the UK Government to follow the lead of the USA and Canada in banning their use.
  • Never throw away plastic bags, too many finish up injuring wildlife injuring wildlife

Home and garden:

Palm oil:

Palm oil is the world’s most popular vegetable oil, currently accounting for over 65% of all vegetable oils traded internationally. It is currently found in around half of all packaged supermarket foods and is also used in detergents, cosmetics and biofuels. And its use is increasing. Millions of hectares of tropical rainforests have been destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations, with a devastating impact on biodiversity.

What can we do?

The World Wildlife Fund for Nature argues that boycotting palm oil is not the answer but that sustainable palm oil is. CSPO stands for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil and means the oil was grown on a plantation that “was established on land that did not contain significant biodiversity, wildlife habitat or other environmental values, and meets the highest environmental, social and economic standards as set out by the RSPO” (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil). Ethical Consumer do encourage a boycott of products from companies that aren’t currently using 100% responsibly sourced palm oil and provide a helpful list of palm-oil free and sustainable palm-oil products here: Ethical Consumer guidance.

RSPO certification is not without its critics. Greenpeace argues that RSPO standards do not prohibit deforestation and peatland destruction. These criticisms appear to have been addressed in the recently announced “RSPO NEXT” voluntary add-on criteria for RSPO members.

Traidcraft have introduced FairPalminto some of their products – a fair trade, sustainable palm oil grown by smallholder farmers in West Africa alongside other crops.

Finally… campaign on climate change, get involved in A Rocha (the world’s biggest Christian biodiversity NGO), and get your church signed up to Eco Church.

With thanks to Martin Hodson, David Morgan and Mike Perry for their suggestions.