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wildfires europe credit reuters.JPG
World News

'A heat pump is more important than a holiday': Charity urges Christians to take action on climate as wildfires increase

by Heather Preston

The vice-chair of a Christian climate change group has called on individuals to fight back after a recent study revealed climate change is to blame for soaring global temperatures.

Barbara Echlin from Green Christian has been speaking as wildfires in Europe and northern Africa have killed dozens of people and forced thousands to evacuate in recent days.

Greece was forced to close the airport in the capital city of Sicily after temperatures hit 47.6C on Monday, while nearly 100 separate wildfires in Algeria have led to the deaths of at least 34 people so far.

Echlin tells Premier climate change is an immediate threat that must be addressed: "There is embedded damage that is already kicking back at us. But we've got to act now so we don't tip more tipping points. If we do nothing, the temperature rise will not stop at two degrees, it won't stop at three degrees, it won't stop at four degrees, it will keep on going.

"It's not just us who are suffering in these wildfires. It's the birds and the insects and plants that have been caught up in these fires that our actions have caused," she added.

A study into recent heatwaves from the World Weather Attribution (WWA) has linked the increase in global temperatures to man-made climate change, stating that the current temperatures would be "virtually impossible" without it.  This month local records were broken across parts of Spain and Italy as temperatures neared Europe's all-time record of 48.8 degrees Celsius. WWA scientists have warned that heatwaves will become more extreme unless we put an end to the burning of fossil fuels.

Echlin says the government needs to start prioritising big-scale renewable and alternative energy solutions: "Fossil fuels, as the UN chief says, have got to stay in the ground. The International Energy Agency said we can have no new fossil fuels after the end of 2021. It's now 2023 and our government is still planning to drill for more oil, and to open a new coal mine," she said.

On Monday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reiterated his commitment to achieving net zero by 2050, following calls from MPs to rethink green policies. The commitment ensures the UK reduces its greenhouse gas emissions by 100 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050. If met, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the UK would equal or outweigh the emissions the removed from the environment by the UK.

The prime minister specified that new measures would have to be "proportionate and pragmatic" without causing unnecessary costs and hassle to households.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove suggested that investments in nature recovery, electric vehicles and in decarbonisation more broadly were key for tackling carbon emissions.

Speaking of how individuals can take their own action to slow climate change and reduce emissions, Echlin tells Premier: "I've got a heat pump being installed as we speak. I'm fortunate I'm able to invest in a heat pump, but I think that it's more important to invest in a heat pump than to go on a holiday."

Heat pumps take heat from outside sources (such as the outside air) and transfer it into your home.  They are a clean energy alternative to gas heating because they produce markedly more energy than they consume.

Echlin explains that the pump allows her to not be "responsible for emissions going out" of her home. "There's lots of things we can all do - but we can't do it on our own. We've got to also pressure our local authorities, our government and at an international level," she added.


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