Friday the 26th of February the ends of the earth

“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Eco-theologian’s call for clean air

A Catholic environmentalist has called on the faithful to consider lifestyle changes in order to reduce the detrimental effect they are having on the air we breathe.

Eco-theologian Dr Edward Echlin, an Honorary Fellow at Leeds Trinity University, stressed the importance of clean air, pointing out that it is necessary for human, animal and plant life on earth.

“Healthy air is especially important for the health of human children. Yet air pollution, including the air we breathe, especially in towns and cities, is rampant and ever increasing when commuters travel by car, usually alone, to and from work,” he told The Universe.

Dr Echlin has now called on the faithful to consider the part they can play in reducing air pollution.

“As Christians we can respond by giving example or appreciation of clear air by walking to and from church and work,” he suggested.

“We can also share sustainable transport such as buses and trams and trains,” he added. “We can make our churches ‘clean air zones’ with few parked cars, and encouraging shared transport.”

Dr Echlin pointed out that our churches face east and, therefore, west and south facing roofs could be used for solar panels, thus reducing fossil fuel use and increasing clean air. He also warned that air travel is a “massive contributor” to air pollution and subsequent human disease and early death. Dr Echlin’s comments come as Catholic Labour MP Mary Creagh, who is also chairwoman of the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee, accused the Government of “passing the buck” on pollution to local councils after it unveiled its plans for cleaning up the UK’s dirty air.

Measures to cut illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide include ending sales of new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040, and £255 million to help councils speed up local measures, which could include charges for the dirtiest vehicles in pollution hotspots. However, critics have been quick to accuse the Government of grabbing headlines with the announcement of a future ban on petrol and diesel cars – and failing to enact measures that could tackle air pollution now.

“Air pollution causes 40,000 early deaths every year in the UK, but today’s plan shows the Government kicking the can down the road once more,” said Ms Creagh.

Picture: The massive increase in traffic on Britain’s roads is a major cause of pollution.