“Climate Change – What Can People of Faith Do?”

In conjunction with Wellington School and Greater Manchester Community Renewables (GMCR), AIG held this event on the evening of April 18th at Wellington Road School. It was attended by members of AIG, funders, the School and GMCR.

The evening began with a welcome by Richard Beeley, Headmaster of the School, who talked about the school’s experience of installing 1000 solar panels, a massive project which is already providing energy for the school. Gemma Tunstall, school Finance and Business Manager, then introduced 4 Wellington students, members of the School’s Eco Committee, who talked about their involvement with the project and also fund-raising to plant trees and help staff with recycling.

Kate Eldridge and Ali Abbas, both Directors of GMCR, explained that the Wellington School solar panel project was funded through community shares and will generate around 116,000 kw annually. Then School benefits from a reduced electricity rate, and can sell its excess energy to the grid, which will help fund the costs. Kate explained some important facts about embarking on this project, GMCR’s largest to date, which was completed in February 2024.

Ann Angel, Vice-Chair of AIG, thanked everyone and introduced three speakers: Richard Baker, freelance Climate Change and Sustainability consultant, Sukhbir Singh, member of AIG with experience of domestic energy modifications, and Kate Eldridge. Richard Baker explained how faith communities could help by, for instance, reducing their carbon footprint and by using smaller spaces for their services, and by individuals’ small actions such as eating less meat and not flying. Sukhbir Singh described his own experience of making his home eco-friendly, and stressed the importance of not cutting corners and doing plenty of research before starting the project.

There then followed a series of questions to a panel comprising Richard Baker, Kate Eldridge, Sukhbir Singh and Ali Abbas on several aspects of installing solar panels including the source of the panels (avoiding China), different forms of heating for churches to avoid gas usage (eg infra-red heating, ground source heat pumps), and the challenges of changing people’s behaviour. A Green Party local councillor urged people to engage with their local politicians, before the upcoming elections, to work for projects such as leasing school buildings for solar panels. After a wide-ranging discussion, Ann Angel closed the event, thanking all concerned for a most informative evening.
Dominique D’Arcy and Carolyn Jones