The Scottish Government is changing the law to help our nation’s economy become more environmentally sustainable. We’re encouraging the church to get involved in the process.

Until the 19th December next week, everyone in Scotland has the opportunity to contribute to the Scottish Government’s consultation on their proposed Circular Economy Bill. The Scottish Government’s Consultation Hub is accessible and makes it possible for individuals, churches or charities to respond to legislative proposals with ease.

In light of the increasing recognition that our planet is being damaged by both the way we do business within our economy and our own individual consumption habits, the Scottish Government is seeking a way forward to reduce the environmental damage we are collectively causing as a nation each day. They have put forward a package of measures to make Scotland’s economy more circular”; that is, an economy where resources are kept in use for as long as possible — reducing waste and carbon emissions, improving productivity and providing local employment opportunities.

There is much that is planned within the bill, but the key proposals are as follows:

  • Reduce. Introducing a charge on items such as single-use disposable beverage cups (which create 4,000 tonnes of waste each year in Scotland) and increase the minimum single-use carrier bag charge from 5p to 10p;
  • Reuse. Making it mandatory for businesses to publicly report their levels of unwanted surplus stock and waste of certain materials, with the possibility of extending this to food waste and textiles;
  • Recycle. Strengthening the current approach towards household recycling by making it mandatory for local authorities to increase both the quantity and quality of recycling through targets and quotas.

The Circular Economy Bill provides a fantastic opportunity for churches and individual Christians to both help shape our nation’s response to climate change and to respond to our calling to steward God’s amazing creation (Genesis 1:26 – 28; Genesis 2:15; Psalm 65: 9 – 13; Psalm 148).

The consultation is available online and consists of 6 short sections with mostly closed questions that require a Yes”, No” or Neither agree nor disagree”, such as Do you agree with the proposal to prioritise introduction of charges for single-use disposable beverage cups?” You are able to submit your response anonymously or have you or your organisation’s name publicly available in the Scottish Government’s published response to the consultation.

We will be making a contribution to the consultation as Evangelical Alliance Scotland on behalf of all our members, and we invite you to join us by making your own contribution.

In thinking more broadly about our stewardship of God’s creation, we would also like to put forward further ideas for you and your church’s prayerful consideration in light of the Circular Economy Bill:

1. Making small but impactful and practical changes in how we do church

The Scottish Government is right to tackle the amount of disposable coffee cups that are thrown away each year in Scotland. Pre or post service fellowship over coffee on Sundays is an important part of how we do church; can we do it in a more sustainable way by introducing recyclable cups, mugs or KeepCups in place of single-use cups? Another idea is one that will not be logistically possible for all churches; but if it is feasible in our own context, can we use public transport instead of our cars to get to church one Sunday a month, taking the opportunity to pray for our local communities along the way?

2. Thinking creatively about how we can speak Jesus into COP26.

This is something we’ll be doing more work on in the coming months. You may or may not have heard, but the worldwide 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) is taking place in Glasgow in 2020. These are the annual conferences where all United Nations member states (197 countries) come together to work out how to tackle climate change (you may have seen COP25 on the news this week which is taking place in Madrid). A famous recent example was COP21 in Paris which led to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate action.

It is difficult to understate the significance of this. The world is coming to Glasgow next year and it will be the largest summit to ever take place in the UK, with 30,000 delegates expected to attend. What an amazing opportunity to share the Gospel with the nations! We would encourage all our members, especially in Glasgow, to start to think creatively about how we can reflect Jesus next year at this momentous event.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1)

You can take part in the Circular Economy Bill consultation here. The consultation closes on Thursday 19th December.

Photo by Viktor Talashuk