Daily Reading Programme on the Care for Creation

A Daily Reading Program on the Christian Theology of Creation
The Unified Vision and Spiritual Direction of the Orthodox Patriarchs as they
call us into care for God’s Creation
A Program of Theological Reflections on Christian Responsibility for
the Care and Keeping of God’s Creation

The Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration

June 1-30, 2021

Introduction
Christ is risen! Greetings in of Lord Jesus Christ! Throughout 2020 the Orthodox
Fellowship of the Transfiguration every month published a set of readings from the
patriarchs and top hierarchs of the Orthodox Church across all jurisdictions that
featured their statements on the proper care of God’s creation.
Now, after several requests that the OFT resume this service, yes, we will
restart this service with a new set of readings from the Patriarchs and Hierarchs of
the Church. These statements are united in that they all call for the care of creation
so that Orthodox parishes may engage the pressing issues of our time. Besides, care
for the creation is more than concern for the environment. This is because care of
the earth serves as a “doorway” to an Orthodox way of life. It provides a gateway to
a genuine Orthodox lifestyle that at once is in harmony with the commandments,
with theology and creation as a visible icon of the divine economia.
As a further consideration, in past centuries humans could not alter the face
of the planet or unleash massive destruction upon the earth. It was not necessary in
those times to emphasize the biblical mandates to respect the earth. In our day with
new and expanding capabilities our top hierarchs are reacquainting us with our
ancient God inspired responsibility to connect our vision of Christ and the Holy
Spirit in all things to respect for creation as worthy of reverence and all care.
As our patriarchs and bishops restore awareness of our duty to respect creation,
we should give special thanks as they restore a vision of holy regard for all things. In
this way, they are laying out an inspired pathway to help us overcome the
secularism and individualism that are diametrically opposed to Orthodox
Christianity.
Thus it is not insignificant that the Orthodox patriarchs across jurisdictions
have become virtually unanimous in a common unified calling for our Church to
awaken to its biblical responsibility and theological vision to assume and restore
responsibility for the planet and the way we relate to the earth.
As you read these statements from our top bishops, an unusual opportunity
emerges. You can let the inspiration upon our holy patriarchs become your teachers
in the faith and instructors in how Orthodox Christians can reshape our lives
despite the deepening secularism which surrounds us.
Yours in service to God’s good earth,
MR – ERC – FK The reading-a-day editorial team

1 Tuesday June 1, 2021 Reuniting the Universe Under Jesus Christ
Cosmology is a form of knowledge which is given to us in Christ by the Holy
Spirit. “The mystery of the Incarnation of the Word,” wrote St. Maximos the
Confessor, “contains within itself the whole meaning of the created world. He
who understands the mystery of the Cross and the Tomb knows the meaning
of all things, and he who is initiated into the hidden meaning of the
Resurrection understands the purpose for which God created everything from
the very beginning.” If this is so, it means that everything has been created by and for the
Word, as the Apostle says in Colossians 1:16-17, and that the meaning of this
creation is revealed to us in the re-creation effected by the same Word taking
flesh, by the Son of God becoming the son of the earth….
In this perspective the Fathers maintain that the historical Bible gives us
the key to the cosmic Bible. In this they are faithful to the Hebrew notion of
the Word, which not only speaks, but creates: God is “true” in the sense that
his word is the source of all reality, not only historical, but also cosmic
reality…. That is why, as St. Maximos says, we discover, or rather the Gospel
discovers for us, that on the one hand, the Word “hides himself mysteriously
in created things like so many letters,” and on the other hand, “he… expresses
himself in the letters, symbols and sounds of Scripture.”
HB Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch, Zurich, Switzerland,
March 10, 1989
Q
What does the term ‘cosmology’ mean?
How much can you explain what is called ‘the Incarnation of the Word’?
How does this relate to the created world?
Reflection


2 Wednesday June 2, 2021
A Call to Protect God’s Creation

The Orthodox Church appreciates these efforts to overcome the ecological
crisis and calls people to intensive co-operation in actions aimed to protect
God’s creation. At the same time, she notes that these efforts will be more
fruitful if the basis on which man’s relations with nature are built will be
not purely humanistic, but also Christian.
One of the main principles of the Church’s stand on ecological issues
is the unity and integrity of the world created by God. Orthodoxy does not
view nature as an isolated and self-enclosed structure. The plant, animal and
human worlds are interconnected.
In the Christian view, nature is not a repository of resources intended
for egotistical and irresponsible consumption. Rather, it is a house in which
man is not the master, but a housekeeper. It is a temple in which he is the
priest serving not nature, but the one Creator. The conception of nature as a
temple is based on the principle of theocentrism: God Who gives to all “life,
and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25) is the Source of being. Therefore,
life itself in its various manifestations is sacred, being a gift of God. Any
encroachment on it is a challenge not only to God’s creation, but also to the
Lord Himself.
HB Patriarch Kyrill, Archbishop of Moscow and Patriarch of All-Russia,
Statement of the Russian Orthodox Church on Ecological programs, #4, June 1, 2012. Q
What are the Orthodox Christian foundations for action to heal God’s earth?
How might a person help protect the earth? List the different ways.
What is the practical meaning of each person as a priest of creation?
Reflection


3 Thursday June 3, 2021
An Awakening to our Problems is Essential

Unless everyone is made sensitive to the harmful character of [polluting]
actions, it is almost impossible for any endeavor for the improvement of the
[environmental] situation to succeed.
Religion can inspire the behavior of every individual or even mass
movements; and it is able to transmit and spread the necessity and benefit of
these behaviors.
This sense of a common fate, which is the polar opposite of the
widespread individualistic and self-interested perception which is short-sighted
in its appreciation of the world, is a basic teaching of the Christian faith, and
especially of Orthodoxy.
Let us seek … to energize the feelings of inertia about responsibility for
the common good which we find in individuals and in whole peoples.
We call on every conscience to awaken! We invite you to a virtual
apostolic commission to spread the word about the necessity for a common
confrontation of these problems. The grace of God be with you all.
HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Trabzon, Turkey,
September 20, 1997
Q
How do people awaken to the seriousness of ecological problems?
Why should every Christian become sensitive to these issues?
What does it mean to have an apostolic commission to spread the word?
Reflection


4 Friday June 4, 2021
The Human Role in the Cosmos

Man is a mediator. He is poised between two realities – God and the world.
He shares in both, he is united to both. He cannot live apart from either.
That is the meaning of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The only humanity
that can survive is the new humanity, the humanity that has now been
inseparably, indivisibly united with God in Jesus Christ.
The new humanity is a mediating humanity – a humanity that
reconciles and unites God and the world. It is an incarnate humanity – a
humanity that is an inseparable part of the whole creation and inseparably
united to the Creator.
This is the meaning of the human presence in the cosmos. To be with
the one who unites. To be in Christ, uniting the divine and the human, the
Creator and the creation, the transcendent and the immanent, the spiritual
and the scientific-technological. To enter the mystery of “Christ in us,” yes, in
us Christians, but also in us human beings, and in us as an integral part of the
whole creation.
The subtle art of image making for the future needs skilled craftsmen
as well as the gift of the Spirit. The various crises of our time should be used
neither as occasions for doom-saying pessimism nor as a chance to peddle
empty-hope optimism. Every crisis is a judgement, a call to see where things
have gone wrong and to seek to set matters right, both within our
consciousness and in society.
The environmental crisis, the economic crisis, the crisis of justice, the
crisis of faith…, the crisis of militarism – of all of these are symptoms not only
that humanity has yet to become what it has to be, but also that it is on the
wrong track.
HE Metropolitan Mar Paulos Gregorios,
Syrian Orthodox Church of India,
New Delhi, India, 1987
Q
What does it mean that humans are mediators?
How is a mediating humanity akin to humans as priests of creation?
Why are crises messages to society?
Reflection


5 Saturday June 5, 2021
Modernity and Global Climate Change

Modernity confronts us with many dilemmas. Man must answer challenges, and
not only those for which his teachers prepared him, but also totally new and
different problems that life places before us. And it has always been so.
The technological progress and social innovations of the 20th century have
transformed the world much faster than, for instance, the entire process of
technological development during medieval times.
Respected theologians of the Serbian Orthodox Church are [now] raising
serious concerns about the environmental crisis and the urgent problems of global
warming, floods, forest fires, sea pollution from plastics, climate changes, etc. …
What is expected of contemporary Christians, as responsible members
of Christ’s Church, is neither aloof diagnosing of spiritual “illness” nor
pronouncements of the “ruination of the world,” nor panicked anathematizing
of “this world” and its modernity, but a responsible witnessing of the Truth of
God-Man Christ, and an unmasking of all falsities, misconceptions and injustices
through the love of Christ.
We have a crucial role as Orthodox Church in encouraging the world’s
response to the climate and ecological crisis through Church as Body of Christ….
Let us all recall the commands of God regarding our use of the earth…. Let us
respond to the divine commandments so that the blessings of God may be
abundantly upon us in Liturgy and prayers. And let us responsibly discern the
right, holy and proper way to live in this time of change and challenge, as a life in
Church as a Body of Christ.
HB Patriarch +Irinej, Serbian Orthodox Church,
Belgrade, September, 2020,
Q
Why is climate change happening?
What role might the Church play in addressing this issue?
What is the call of Scripture in caring for the earth?
Reflection


6 Monday June 7, 2021
Why Ecology is a Spiritual Issue

The ecological problem is, at root, a spiritual issue. Many people dealing with
it tend to overlook its spiritual aspects. And yet both historically and from
the practical point of view it is impossible to address it without reference to
religion and ethics. …
A human is the Priest of creation as he or she freely turns it into a
vehicle of communion with God and fellow human beings. This means that
material creation is not treated as a means of obtaining pleasure and
happiness for the individual, but as a sacred gift from God which is meant to
foster and promote communion with God and with others.
Such a ‘liturgical’ use of nature by human beings leads to forms of
culture which are deeply respectful of the material world while keeping the
human person at the centre.
HE Metropolitan John of Pergamon, “Production and Consumption,”
April, 1996
Q
Why is the ecological problem a spiritual issue?
Can you explain what are the duties of a ‘priest of creation’?
How does a sense of the sacred in nature lead to a liturgical sense about nature?
Reflection


7 Tuesday June 8, 2020
Energy Conservation and Climate Justice

In light and wind, in land and water, energy resources are abundant gifts for
human well-being from our Creator God. Because we are called to “till and to
tend the garden” (Gen 2:15), we have a moral obligation to choose the safest,
cleanest and most sustainable sources of energy to protect and preserve God’s
creation. Energy conservation is faithful stewardship.
Humans have a choice of priorities for the future. By depleting energy
sources, causing global warming, fouling the air with pollution, and poisoning the
land with radioactive waste, a policy of increased reliance on fossil fuels and
nuclear power jeopardizes health and well-being for life on Earth.
On the other hand, by investing in clean technology, renewable energy,
greater vehicle fuel efficiency and safer power plants, we help assure sustainability
for God’s creation and God’s justice. Energy conservation is intergenerational
responsibility….
Energy policy must be an instrument of social and economic justice here
and abroad. The first beneficiaries of a new energy policy should be “the least
among us,” the low-income, the vulnerable, and the sick to whom we can provide
assistance with high energy bills, inexpensive mobility through expanded mass
transit, cleaner air by reducing pollution from power plants, and lower gasoline
prices through strict monitoring of oil companies for price-gouging. Energy
conservation is justice for all peoples and nations.
There is no single solution to the energy challenge. We do not have to
sacrifice economic security to assure ecological health. Prudence – the application
of moral principle in service to the common good — should guide us to meet
immediate needs in such a way as to enhance, not diminish future sustainability.
HE Archbishop Demitrios, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America;
HE Metropolitan Philip, Archdiocese of North America, Antiocian Orthodox Church;
HE Metro. Christopher, President, Episcopal Council of SCOBA, Serbian Orthodox Church;
HE Archbishop Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim, Patriarchal, Syrian Orthodox (Malankara) Church of Antioch;
HB Metropolitan Theodosius, primate, Orthodox Church in America (OCA);
“Moral Reflection on Energy Policy and Global Warming,” Joint declaration, February, 2002
Q
Why should Orthodox Christians be concerned about global climate change?
How does Christianity shape our attitude toward energy use?
How is there a connection between energy conservation and justice?
Reflection


8 Wednesday June 9, 2021 Creation as an Integrated Whole
Orthodoxy’s rich creation theology rests on the assumption that the entire
cosmos is an integrated whole….
Orthodoxy’s understanding of the human being as person, and as a
microcosm of the cosmos, assumes that humanity is existentially meaningful
only through the free and conscious engagement in relation with others. The
Ecumenical Patriarchate is committed to transforming the human condition.
Our vision of freedom and relationality is consistent with U.N. efforts
at transforming post-conflict situations, by restoring the torn fabric of
individual and community life.
The Orthodox Church transcends linguistic, ethnic and national
divisions. Our Holy Orthodox Church is modeled on the Trinitarian
principle of unity in diversity, whereby heterogeneity and uniqueness are
fundamental aspects of our humanity. …
We exhort you, to take up the responsibility which has been given to
us by God, our Creator, to collectively renew our commitment to restoring
the peace, justice and integrity of all creation. We ask you to consider the
creative gifts of the Orthodox Christian community as a resource for change.
HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, United Nations Luncheon,
New York City, NY, October 27, 1997
Q
What does it mean that the human is a microcosm of the cosmos?
How does the term “unity in diversity” reflect the Orthodox Church?
How may we play a role in restoring justice, peace and integrity within creation?
Reflection


9 Thursday June 10, 2020
Respect for the Animals

From time to time we realize that everything is from God, the animals, the
plants, the earth, the celestial planets, and we are humbled before God and
thankful for his creation….
It is traditional for us as Orthodox to have a good relationship with
the animals. Our theology is favorable to the animals. We have never
tolerated violence, but we have never said anything because I think it
was not seen as necessary. Now, however, we see more and more the ill
treatment of animals and it is true, it is time that we in the Church said
something. Before there did not seem the need, but it is different now.
In the context of Cyprus we can do more and we should do more.
Now when we see instances of violence or people bring us information, we
must do something about it.
It is true that many of our teachings do not get through to the
people, but this is true of many other things as well as the animals. It
has to do with the nature of the individual person; some will listen
and understand, while others will go their own way, against the teachings.
If you are a good Christian, you will love the animals and they will love you
back. There are many books showing this through the lives of the early saints.
You cannot find a holy man who has mistreated animals….
Let me be clear. Animals are the creation of God. We should treat
them with respect and not be cruel to them. What kind of soul they may
have has no part of that discussion. We should not be involved in this
type of argument as it only serves to confuse what should be very clear.
We should not be cruel to animals. We should treat them with love.
HE Metropolitan Isaias of Tamasou and Orinis, Orthodox Church of Cyprus,
Interview with Presbytera Christina Nellist, March 4, 2014
Q
Why should Christians respect animals?
How would you describe an Orthodox Christian attitude toward animals?
Do you know how the saints treated animals? What does that teach us?
Reflection


10 Friday June 11, 2020
The Continuing Work of the Church

From my heart I pray for all the workers and Missionaries of the love of
Christ, the Metropolitans and Bishops of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and
All Africa, the Priests throughout Africa and our blessed children, Greeks,
Arabs, Africans, Serbs, Russians and Romanians, Bulgarians, Ukrainians and
all other nationalities, that the Grace of the Most Holy God will strengthen
your lives always.
Now that a new period of Missionary and Catechetical work is about
to start, we are all geared towards sowing and harvesting of the Word of God
in the hearts of the people. The evangelization of the nations, the teaching of
the people of God regarding the important issues of faith and Christian life,
the great problems of the world and society, joblessness, narcotics, diseases,
wars, the ecological problem, destruction and pollution of the environment
and many others, create in us all a huge problem and an internal need for
prayer, strong prayer, so that solutions can be found for all levels.
Having our faith in Christ as a rule, the joy and optimism which stem
from this perspective, we will continue with the “good fight,” we will remain
in the battlements and we will all be humble Missionaries of the good and the
beautiful, that which our Orthodox Church teaches us, applying the
exhortations of St Paul, which is beneficial for us all.
I send to you all the heartfelt Patriarchal blessing of the Apostle Mark
and my Paternal prayer, that the Almighty God “who holds the times and the
seasons in His own authority,” may protect and bless the whole world, the
blessed and suffering land of Africa, the continent of the future, the crossroads
of civilizations, granting health and happiness to all.
His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa,
In the Great City of Alexandria, September 1, 2009
Q
What is the work of the Church?
How can you participate in this great work?
Do you know what the exhortations of Saint Paul involve?
Reflection


11 Saturday June 12, 2020
The Experience of an Explosion of Love

Saint Isaac the Syrian and the Russian writer Fyodor Doestoyevskiy share
a common focus on love. Both declare that love is truth. St. Isaac is widely
respected because he speaks the truth bluntly and leaves his message to
work within us. St. Isaac speaks to anyone who is genuinely struggling.
He writes with a respect for those who are small and humble. His message
is that man can learn to enjoy stillness while living on earth. His goal is to
liberate each person from the cycle of corruption, to break down the
barriers that block spiritual progress. In this way Orthodoxy leads to a
glorious experience of theophany. …
This is also a message that Doestoyevskiy imparts. There is a deep,
indisputable connection, a spiritual kinship, between St. Isaac and Fyodor
Doestoyevsky. We might say that Doestoyevskiy is a St. Isaac in the
world.… Love and truth are connected. Out of silence, a radiation of
spirit, of consciousness, takes place. … The denying of one’s self leads to
salvation.
In prayer monks can sometimes experience an explosion of love.
This opens and reveals a vision that God is present everywhere and in all
things. When we experience how God fills all things with his life and love,
a ministry of service to the whole world comes into focus.…
His Eminence Archimandrite Vasileios, former abbot, Iveron Monastery,
Mount Athos, Greece, June 28, 2013
Q
Why is love also truth?
How is love related to God?
Why is service to creation also a form of service to God?
Reflection


12 Monday June 14, 2020
The Creation as a Living Gift from God

The creation is a living gift from God to all, a marvelous expression of divine
love and wisdom.
Through the human encounter with nature, a realization of the divine
becomes manifest. In our own personal life, the vast wilderness of the Egyptian
desert and its beauty have long been a cherished place for prayer and
contemplation. For this reason we continue to spend one-half of each week at
our residence at the Monastery of Saint Bishoy in Wadi El-Natrun.
The life of our Church not only encourages an appreciation of nature,
but places a duty upon all people to protect the environment and to prevent its
ever increasing destruction.
His Holiness Pope Shenuda III, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria,
Monastery of Saint Bishoy, Wadi El-Natrun, January, 2003

Why Ecology is a Spiritual Concern
The ecological problem is one of exhaustion in nature, pollution of natural
resources, annihilation of forests, utilization of dangerous natural forces
such as nuclear energy, and the production of new synthetic substances
which do not exist in nature and cannot be decomposed biologically.
On the basis of this, I have come to the conclusion that the
ecological problem is, actually, theological and religious in nature; that it is a
problem of faith and religious activity – of orthodoxy and orthopraxis. There
must be a radical change in the practical lives of all humanity, a new
environmental ethic which seeks the integrity of creation in all its forms.
HE Metropolitan Damaskinos of Switzerland, “The Ecological Problem,”
Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, March, 1990
Q
How would you define the right treatment of God’s creation?
Why do moral and spiritual principles underlie right treatment of the world?
How should the Church teach a right relationship to God’s world?
Reflections


13 Tuesday June 15, 2020
Reintegrating Science and Religion

By the end of the 20th century, science and technology have acquired such
influence that it has become the decisive force in the life of civilization. At the
same time, despite Christianity’s initial impact on the formation of scientific
activity, under secular influences, they have led to serious fears and real
problems. The ecological crises which have hit the modern world challenge the
path forward. The scientific and technological level of civilization is such that
criminal actions of a small group can cause a global disaster in which even the
highest forms of life will perish irrevocably.
From a Christian perspective, these consequences arise because of the
false principle underlying contemporary scientific and technological
development. This principle requires that technological development should
not be restricted by ethical or religious requirements. With this freedom
scientific development finds itself at the mercy of human passions, including
vanity, pride and thirst for the greatest possible comfort. This frustrates the
spiritual harmony of life with negative consequences. Therefore, to ensure
normal human life it is now necessary as never before to restore the lost link
between scientific knowledge and religious, spiritual and moral values. The
need for this link is conditioned by the fact that a considerable number of
people believe in the omnipotence of scientific knowledge….
Mikhailo Lomonosov rightly wrote that science and religion “cannot
come into conflict… unless someone excites strife in them….”
St. Philaret of Moscow expressed a similar idea: “Faith in Christ is not in
conflict with true knowledge, because it is not in union with ignorance.”
Noteworthy is the incorrectness of opposing religion to a scientific worldview.
Only religion and philosophy can fulfill the function of worldview, which
no scientific knowledge is capable of assuming.
HB Patriarch Kyrill, Archbishop of Moscow and Patriarch of All-Russia,
“Russian Orthodox Church on Ecological programs,” June 1, 2012
Q
How do ecological crises challenge the path forward?
How can religion and science be in harmony?
What is “the lost link” between scientific knowledge and moral values?
Reflection


14 Wednesday June 16, 2020
A Bridge-Building Pathway

Nobody, not a religion, not a nation, not a state, not science and technology,
can face the contemporary world’s unforeseen challenges alone. In our present
day and age, we must promote cooperation and mutual trust. Building bridges
is the way to our common future.
Religions are diminishing their capacity to contribute to the precious
culture of solidarity because of their antagonism and wide-spread
fundamentalistic tendencies. The way to overcome these difficulties is the
unwavering commitment of religions to peace in the world and to interreligious
dialogue. To succeed in this task, together with the sensibilization of
consciences, a stronger mobilization on the action-level is needed.
The credibility of religions today depends on their attitude towards the
protection of human freedom and dignity, as well as on their contribution to
peace. Peace between cultures and nations cannot be reached without the
efforts of religions and without dialogue and peace between religions. It was in
this spirit that our Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, established a sincere
dialogue with Judaism and Islam nearly three decades ago, with remarkable
results in mutual understanding, peaceful coexistence and cooperation.
Religions can fanaticize people, they can divide and foster hatred and
violence. But, they are also able to humanize people and support and empower
their struggle for freedom, justice and reconciliation. We must work constantly
and consciously, so that the contemporary, yet ambiguous, “return of God”
and “renaissance of religion” will not become a return of war, conflict and
violence in the name of God and of religion, but a return of the “God of peace”
and the rebirth of the “culture of solidarity.”
HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew,, Eurasian Economic Summit,
April 5, 2017
Q
Why in our contemporary world must we cultivate cooperation and mutual trust?
Why do some religions cause a fanaticism in their believers?
How should different religions relate to each other?
Reflections


15 Thursday June 17, 2020
Globalization and Economic Inequality

The problem of social and economic inequality is one of the most pressing
and at the same time one of the most complex problems of the modern world.
Millions of people eke out a pitiful existence, suffering from malnutrition,
disease, various forms of discrimination and the degradation caused to the
environment. These problems become more acute as the world economy and
technological growth become globalized.
Globalization creates advantages for a small number of people and
risks for a huge part of the earth’s population. Economists admit that the
opening of markets in developing countries has mainly benefitted wealthy
countries and has brought about an increase, not a reduction, of the gap
between the wealthy and the poor countries.
The overriding principle of modern economic culture is profiteering,
the resolution of one’s objectives and the realization of one’s interests at the
expense of others. Humanistic values, which have at their root Christian
principles, have been devalued. An economy built on the cultivation of
hedonism is by definition immoral. Immoral too is humanity’s rapacious
attitude towards the natural environment, which suffers from the insatiable
appetite of a man of the consumer world.
We must remember that material benefits by themselves do not make
us happy. Moreover, a concentration solely upon material well-being leads to
moral degradation. Christ warns us: “Take care! Be on guard against all kinds
of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions”
(Luke 12:15). The Church calls us to treat wealth as God’s gift which is given
to humans not so much for themselves, but for the benefit of one’s neighbors.
Those who obtain profit should be made aware that a great responsibility rests
upon them – to be attentive to the needs of other people, to help eradicate
economic injustice in society, and thus fulfill the will of God.
HE Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Russian Orthodox Church,
Budapest Forum for Christian Communicators, September 6, 2019
Q
What is globalization?
Why is it that material wealth cannot satisfy?
How does material wealth become a test of one’s spiritual life?
Reflections


16 Friday June 18, 2020
Prayers Are Solicited for Peace

In the Church of Antioch, we are currently experiencing ecological and social
problems in a very urgent manner. At the heart of the Arab world there seems
now, more than ever before, a searching for more democratic social structures
together with issues related to freedom and human dignity. These goals now
challenge our conscience and compel us to ever deeper reflection.
In this highly confrontational context, we commit ourselves to a more
eloquent testimony to the power of the Gospel of Jesus, the comforter…. It is
in this humble fidelity to the life-giving spirit, stronger than the death that
surrounds us, we pray the Lord to bless your meeting.
In addition, we ask you to offer prayers more fervently for a Middle
East that is shaken by devastating waves of violence, so that the resurrected
Lord may teach the way of the future, the ways of peace, in which love
triumphs over hate, freedom over slavery, and dignity over humiliation.
HB Ignatius IV, Patriarch, The Church of Antioch
Damascus, Syria, September 8, 2012
Q
How do prayers help to reduce violence and suffering?
Why does love triumph over hate in the end?
What are the qualities which bring peace to society?

Reflections


17 Saturday June 19, 2021
The Challenges of the Future

When we focus on what the church is doing about a particular problem,
we must always remember that the church is not just the bishops, priests,
deacons and those with a leadership role. The church is all those who
participate in the eucharistic community. There already is a growing
sensitivity towards these issues among many lay people in the church.
Furthermore, we began to discuss this issue of the integration of creation
many years ago. Lay people played a decisive role in this. Scientists on the
frontiers of environmental research and those who make decisions in political
and economic life have been spokesmen for the Church just as much as
Church leaders….
The Book of Revelation has a strong element of realism when it puts
emphasis on the battle with demonic powers. This is not an easy story, it is a
real battle with victims, martyrs and heroes.
God is the Alpha and the Omega, the One who is, who was, and who is
to come. This is what gives us hope. God is not the God of the past, but the
God of eternity. This idea is repeated again and again. At the end of the Book
[of Revelation] there is victory, and the song of the new creation. The message
is one of hope, but only after going through all these battles, tragedies
and difficulties. I believe that keeping these eschatological and universal
perspectives in mind is the key to understanding our present in a realistic
way. It is most important in order to maintain this hope, to act in the local
situation while at the same time keeping the eschatological and the universal
perspectives in mind. In doing so we will be taking part in the concrete battle
of the century.
HB Archbishop Anastasios of Albania,
Patriarchal Symposium on The Book of Revelation, September 27, 1995
Q
How does dealing with principalities and powers relate to ecological problems?
Why do you think His Eminence calls the Book of revelation a message of hope?
Why is hope in the promises of God part of our ecological remembrance?
Reflection


18 Monday June 21, 2021
The Ecological Problem is A Spiritual Problem

I have many times expressed the opinion that the discussions and demonstrations
on the environment are reminiscent of dialogues of the deaf. While in theory,
all of us perceive the critical state of the [ecological] issue and many do take
initiatives or strive eagerly to contribute to its resolution, the problem remains
and has not been corrected.
The world is not the result of coincidences or accidental events, but it
was conceived by the Creator as a springboard for salvation. We human beings
have, or at least say we have, a regulatory role in creation, as its crowning.
However, we often forget our relationship with God and our place in creation.
We become autonomous, guided by dominating concepts and behaviors, which
are oppressive towards our fellow beings and the environment.
The saints of the Orthodox Church, having accomplished the purpose of
their existence as human beings and participating in the divine glory, show and
teach us the ecological ideal. Thus St. Isaac the Syrian defines the merciful
heart as “a heart burning for the whole creation, for people, for birds, for
animals, for demons, and for all creatures.” As for St. Cosmas of Aetolia, he
prophesied that “people will become poor because they will not love trees.”
The ecological problem is fundamentally a spiritual problem, with
enormous moral implications. If we do not free ourselves from egocentrism and
eudemonism (the belief that happiness is the test of right behavior), if we do
not have an ascetic vision of creation and of our rational and conscious use of
material goods and wealth, the ecological problem will spread, instead of being
stopped. This is why the fundamental challenge of World Environment Day is
for all of us to repent, to return to God the Creator, and to reintegrate ourselves
in the perspective of the divine plan for creation and the environment.
HE Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, Greece,
On the occasion of World Environment Day, June 4, 2019
Q
Why is care for the environment a spiritual problem?
How may we correct our relationship and interactions with God’s creation?
What is the ideal relationship that we as Christians should have with creation?
Reflection


19 Tuesday June 22, 2020
The Challenge of Our Generation

We all recognize that we can no longer desecrate God’s creation, whose origin
and destiny are inseparably identified with ourselves. What we refuse to do is
take the next step that is required of us as priests of creation, which entails
consecrating creation to the Creator. Avoiding desecration is only a partial
response to the ecological crisis; accepting and advocating consecration is the
fulfillment of our divine mandate to “serve and preserve the earth” (Gen. 2:15).
Such a sanctification and offering to God of “His own of His own, on behalf of
all and for the sake of all” (From the Divine Liturgy) unleashes the transformative
potential and restorative capacity of all creation for healing and wholeness.
However, in order to heal the earth, we must purify our hearts and
transform our habits. Every act of defilement on the body of creation is ultimately
contempt for the Body of Christ. Whereas when we demonstrate respectful
consideration for the earth’s natural resources, then we can also begin to discern
the perspective of the kingdom “on earth as in heaven” (From the Lord’s Prayer).
As Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has written: “Climate change
affects everyone. Unless we take radical and immediate measures to reduce
emissions stemming from unsustainable excesses in the demands of our
lifestyle, the impact will be both immediate and alarming.”
Therefore, each parish and every individual should seek out ways of
practicing prayer and care for God’s creation by applying the fundamental
principles of scripture, theology and tradition with regard to our relationship with the natural environment by considering changes in our attitudes
and habits with regard to food and travel, by reducing consumption of fossil
fuels and choosing alternative sources of energy with regard to lighting and heating,
as well as by raising and promoting awareness with regard to the divine gifts of
water and air. Every parish and community is invited and encouraged to
open a fruitful dialogue on this challenge of our generation.
HE Archbishop Elpidophorus, Protocol No. 22/19,
New York City, NY, September 1, 2019
Q
Why is it wrong and a sin to desecrate God’s creation?
How can members of a parish work together to address climate change?
Why is climate change an important issue for Orthodox parishes?
Reflection


20 Wednesday June 23, 2020
Avoid the Evil of Environmental Pollution

We know that pollution of the environment can have repercussions far away
from the point at which the pollution takes place….
Allow me to remind you of the ancient Greek philosopher Herodotus
according to whom there was once a people which considered the rivers to be
sacred and polluting them to be a sacrilege. Perhaps those who demythologize
ancient beliefs may regard such a concept as superstition. However, this belief
is preferable to the unscrupulous and irresponsible dumping of harmful
substances into the rivers, temporarily relieving those who selfishly pollute the
river, but harming their fellow humans who will use it.
Therefore, we must acquire a moral code higher than the one used by
such crude people and learn to respect humanity, accepting as a basic principle
that it is morally unacceptable to burden others with our wastes. This is the
only way to ensure that the Danube, the longest river of this region, becomes a
road of life for all….
This is the deeper reason why our humble person, whose mission is
the Christian education and sanctification of the Orthodox faithful, has
wholeheartedly sponsored the present series of ecological symposia. As the
Church Fathers teach, the root of all evils is selfishness and the highest
expression of virtue is selfless love. It is not permitted for faithful Christians
who are seeking sanctification to remain indifferent to the effects of their acts
on their fellow humans. The sensitivity of their conscience must be increased
so that they are not indifferent even to the indirect consequences of their acts.
HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, “The Danube,
A River of Life,” Passau, Germany, October 17, 1999
Q
Why is pollution of the environment harmful?
What are some consequences of pollution?
How may a person increase the sensitivity of his or her conscience?
Reflection


21 Thursday June 24, 2021
Climate Change as an Urgent Christian Issue

As a theologian who has spent his life serving God and striving to make the
world a better place, I am deeply committed to do everything I can to stop the
crisis that is global climate change.
The United Nations summit on climate change, COP-24 [in Poland],
brings us to a crossroads in our striving to build a better world for our children
and future generations. As the meetings in Katowice will show, we are failing in
our climate change efforts. We are on a bus without brakes, traveling towards a
major destination. But we keep arguing about how to get there.
Whilst there is almost unanimous belief that the world is warming,
there are different opinions about how to address it. There is an ongoing
presumption that one view is better than the other? Some of us are very
familiar with this debate. The reality is, all beliefs are legitimate.
If we have any hope of protecting humankind and the planet, we need
to examine and test every solution. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an
obvious solution. Proven by science, commercial application and common
sense, CCS must form a vital part in our climate change response because it
removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Just as the UN Security Council is working with member states to
ensure the survival of humankind, we all need to work together – countries,
industry, organisations and individuals – using everything at our disposal to
protect our planet by reducing how much carbon dioxide we release.
Climate change success will only come when everyone is working
together and everything is embraced.

HE Archbishop Serafim (Kykotis), Archbishop of Zimbabwe and Angola,
Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa,
Harare, Zimbabwe, November 29, 2018
Q
Can you name some solutions to the global challenge of climate change?
What does the idea of carbon capture and sequestration mean?
What is your parish doing to address climate change? Why?
Reflection


22 Friday June 25 2021
Compassion for Animals

Compassion for animals is vividly expressed in the writings of a recent Athonite
Saint, the Russian monk Silouan (1866-1938). “The Lord,” he says, “bestows
such rich grace on his chosen ones that they embrace the whole earth, the
whole world within their love. …”
“One day I saw a dead snake on my path… and I was filled with pity for
every living creature, every suffering thing in creation, and I wept bitterly
before God.” Such is in truth the compassionate love that we are called to
express towards the animals.
All too often they are innocent sufferers, and we should view this
undeserved suffering with compunction and sympathy. What harm have they
done to us, that we should inflict pain and distress upon them?
As living beings, sensitive and easily hurt, they are to be viewed as a ‘Thou’,
not an ‘It,’ to use Martin Buber’s terminology: not as objects to be exploited and
manipulated but as subjects, capable of joy and sorrow, of happiness and
affliction. They are to be approached with gentleness and tenderness; and,
more than that, with respect and reverence, for they are precious in God’s
sight. As William Blake affirmed, “Every thing that lives is holy.”
HE Metropolitan Kallistos [Ware] of Diokleia,
Intl Orthodox Theological Association Conference, “Compassion for Animals,”
Iasi, Romania, January, 2019 Q
Why do you think it is that every thing that lives is holy?
What would it mean to embrace a sense of compassion for animals?
How would your life change if it included a sense of respect for all living things?
Reflection


23 Saturday June 26, 2020
Ecological Asceticism

The ecological problem, at root, is a spiritual issue. Many people dealing with it
[the environment] tend to overlook its spiritual aspects. Yet both historically and
practically it is impossible to address it without reference to religion and ethics.
What motivation can religion offer people facing the ecological crisis? Here are
some suggestions:
Stressing and promoting the idea of the sacredness of creation in all its
aspects, spiritual as well as material….
A human is the Priest of creation as he or she freely turns it into a vehicle
of communion with God and fellow human beings. This means that the material
creation is… a sacred gift from God which is meant to foster and promote
communion with God and with others. Such a ‘liturgical’ use of nature by human
beings leads to forms of culture which are deeply respectful of the material world
while keeping the human person at the centre.
A spirit of asceticism. An ‘ecological asceticism,’ if we may coin such a
term, begins with deep respect for the material creation, including the human
body, and builds upon the view that we are not masters and possessors of
creation, but are called to turn it into a vehicle of communion…. This last point is
of paramount importance. Human beings must realize that natural resources are
not unlimited. Creation is finite and so are the resources that nature provides for
our needs. The consumerist philosophy of life seems to ignore this truth.
Reconsider our concept of quality of life. Quality does not need quantity to
exist. A restriction in our use of natural resources can lead to a happier life than
the endless competition of spending and acquiring more and more.
Qualitative growth must replace the concept of economic development…
Asceticism must cease to be a notion referring to a class of religious eccentrics
and become synonymous with qualitative – instead of quantitative – progress.
HE Metropolitan John of Pergamon, “Ecological Asceticism:
A Cultural Revolution,” April, 1996 Q
What does it mean that God’s creation is sacred in terms of human behavior?
How would you define ecological asceticism?
What does it mean to be a priest of creation?
Reflection


24 Monday June 28, 2021
On the Edge of Global Ecological Disaster

The Orthodox Church, aware of her responsibility for the fate of the world, is
deeply concerned about the problems generated by contemporary civilization.
Ecological problems occupy a prominent place among them. Today the face of
the Earth has been distorted on a global scale. Its bowels are being damaged as
are its soil, water, air, fauna and flora. Nature which surrounds us serves as the
life support system for humanity. Man however is no longer satisfied with its
diverse gifts, but exploits whole ecosystems without restraint.
Human activity has acquired an ability to affect global processes and
these powers increase constantly due to the accelerated development of
science and technology. Industrial wastes which pollute the environment,
bad agricultural technology, the destruction of forests and topsoil — these
suppress biological activity and cause a steady shrinking of the biological and
genetic diversity of life. Limited and irreplenishable mineral resources are being
exhausted; drinking water supplies are being reduced. A great many harmful
toxic substances have become present in the biosphere, which are not naturally
part of the earth’s circulation and accumulating. The ecological balance has
been violated. Man now has to face the emergence of pernicious processes in
nature, including the failure of its natural reproductive power.
All this happens against a background of unprecedented and unjustified
growth of public consumption, especially in the most highly developed
countries, where the search for wealth and luxury has become a norm of life.
This situation obstructs a just and fair distribution of natural resources, which
are common human property. The consequences of the ecological crisis are
proving painful, not only for nature, but also for man. As a result, the entire
Earth finds itself on the verge of global ecological disaster.
HB Patriarch Alexiy II of Moscow and All-Russia, “Declaration on the
Social Policy of the Russian Orthodox Church,” Nr. 13, 2000 Q
Why do humans allow the pollution and degradation of the earth?
How can we join together to stop pollution and defilement of the land?
What are the consequences of failure to stop pollution?
Reflection


25 Tuesday June 29, 2021
Avoiding Greed and Exceeding Our Need

St. John Chrysostom, urges: “In all things, we should avoid greed and exceeding
our need” (Homily 37 on Genesis) for “this ultimately trains us to become crude
and inhumane” (Homily 83 on Matthew), “no longer allowing people to be
people, but instead transforming them into beasts and demons” (Homily 39 on
1 Corinthians).
Therefore, convinced that Orthodox Christianity implies discarding
everything superfluous and that Orthodox Christians are “good stewards of
the grace of God” (1 Peter 4.10), we conclude with a message from a classic
story, from which everyone can reasonably deduce how uneducated, yet
faithful and respectful people perceived the natural environment and how it
should be retained pure and prosperous:
In the Sayings of the Desert Fathers of the Sinai, it is said about a monk
that eight hungry Saracens once approached him for food, but he had nothing
to offer them because he survived on raw, wild capers, whose bitterness could
kill even a camel. However, upon seeing them dying of extreme hunger, he said
to one of them: “Take your bow and cross this mountain. There, you will find a
herd of wild goats. Shoot one of them, whichever one you desire, but do not
shoot another.” The Saracen departed and, as the old man advised, shot one of
the animals. But when he tried to shoot another, his bow immediately snapped.
So he returned with the meat and related the story to his friends.
HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, June 5, 2010 Q
Why does greed condition a person toward becoming crude and inhumane?
In what ways does consumerism encourage us to acquire more than we need?
What does the story of the monk in the Sinai desert teach us?
Reflection


26 Wednesday June 30, 2021
Christians Must Become Sensitive to Ecological Issues

It is important that [Orthodox] Church members become increasingly
sensitive about environmental issues…. That will be challenging for the
people of the Church, but I think that we have already begun the process.
We have identified one problem as being indifference towards God’s
creation.
One of our tasks is to help the people who come to church become
more aware that a passive attitude or indifference towards ecological issues is
wrong, and that they should become more appreciative of the integrity of
creation, in other words the integrity of God’s work.
Although it is not reasonable to expect results immediately, at least
we have made a start. Fortunately in the Church we live in hope, and
therefore we have the hope that we shall be more effective in the future.
HB Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, Symposium on The Book of Revelation,
Reflections, September 27, 1995 Q
Why is sensitivity to ecological issues important?
What is insensitivity to ecological issues? Why might this condition arise?
How does a person overcome this sort of insensitivity?
Reflection


27 Thursday July 1, 2021
Discerning Beauty in Nature and Every Person

According to the sixth century theologian Dionysius the Areopagite, the most
fundamental name of God is ‘good.’ This essential good, by the fact of its
existence, extends goodness into all things. For Dionysius, what exists is good,
and what is good is beautiful.
Dionysius gives us a picture of the universe in which God is the
source of all that is. For Dionysius, perceptible beauty is a dim reflection of the
unutterable Beauty of the Creator. It lifts our minds and hearts to its source….
The inanimate world and the world of plants and animals conforms to models
that express the will of God, divine paradigms we are unable to perceive
directly, but whose mediated presence, we can intuitively perceive.
Mankind alone does not conform to the divine paradigm… and therefore
does not conform to the image of God within. That image is not confined
to his conscience, or his reason…. It is found in the whole of his being. Each
individual human being is a hologram of the universe: everything that is ‘out
there’ is also ‘in here.’ Each of us is a microcosm of the whole. That is why we
can experience plants and animals as our sisters and brothers, because their
existence is implicit in the deeper levels of our being.
Thus our ecological task is to find ourselves in the universe, and find the
universe in us. Our understanding will never reach the depths that are within
us. However, we do not have to know everything before we begin to act. The
truth of our actions will depend on our conforming to the deep structure of our
own nature, and thereby bring our mode of behavior, into conformity with the
will of God, which is known to us in part, through the world. All religious
traditions have ways of helping their members to do this, and we must use the
resources of our traditions for a common goal, a common good. HG Bishop Basil of Sergievo, Russian Orthodox Church,
Symposium on the Black Sea, September 26, 1997
Q
What is beauty?
How may beauty become a teacher of personal behavior?
What does it mean that each person is a hologram of the universe?
Reflections


28 Friday July 2, 2021
Priestly Asceticism is for All Christians

The ecological problem, at root, is a spiritual issue. Many people dealing with
the environment tend to overlook its spiritual aspects. Yet both historically
and practically it is impossible to address it without reference to religion and
ethics. What motivation can religion offer people facing the ecological crisis?
Here are some suggestions:
Stressing and promoting the idea of the sacredness of creation in all its
aspects, spiritual as well as material….
A human is the Priest of creation as he or she freely turns it into a
vehicle of communion with God and fellow human beings. This means that
material creation is… a sacred gift from God which is meant to foster and
promote communion with God and with others. Such a ‘liturgical’ use of nature
by human beings leads to forms of culture which are deeply respectful of the
material world while keeping the human person at the centre.
An “ecological asceticism,” if we may coin such a term, begins with deep
respect for the material creation, including the human body, and builds upon
the view that we are not masters and possessors of creation, but we are called
to turn the creation into a vehicle of communion…. This last point is of
paramount importance. Human beings must realize that natural resources are
not unlimited. Creation is finite and so are the resources that nature provides
for our needs. The consumerist philosophy of life ignores this truth.
Reconsider our concept of quality of life. Quality does not need quantity
to exist. A restriction in our use of natural resources can lead to a happier life
than the endless competition of spending and acquiring more and more.
Qualitative growth must replace the concept of economic development which is
dominated by quantitative statistics. Asceticism must cease to be a notion
referring to a class of religious eccentrics and become synonymous with
qualitative – instead of quantitative – progress in human societies.
HE Metropolitan John of Pergamon, “Ecological Asceticism: A Cultural Revolution,”
April, 1996 Q
What does it mean that God’s creation is sacred in terms of human behavior?
How would you define ecological asceticism?
What does it mean to be a priest of creation?
Reflection


Programs and Opportunities


The Face of God film
If you have not seen it yet, you are invited to view our new film “The Face of God:
The Orthodox Church and Global Climate Change.” See also the introductions to
this film with commentary from HB Bishop Ireniy from the Serbian Orthodox
Church’s Diocese of the East, from HE Archbishop Alexander from the OCA’s
Diocese of the South, and from HE Metropolitan Nathanael from the Greek
Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago. See this at www.FaceofGodfilm.com


Reaching into Australia
Coming up next month the OFT will begin to circulate our film to the Orthodox
parishes of Australia. Please pray that this effort proceeds smoothly and effectively.


Linguists Needed
Additionally we will be translating our film into a number of languages, including
Albanian, Arabic, French, German, Hindi, Greek, Romanian, Russian, Serbian,
Shona, Swahili, plus other European and Middle Eastern languages. If you would
like to volunteer your Native language skills, your help in translations would be most
appreciated. Please send a note to our office, c/o FKrueger@Sonic.net


Forty more hours
During the production of our film, our team recorded over forty hours of interviews,
much of it inspired and eloquent. Our next task is to sort through these “out takes”
and place these commentaries on a fifth page of our film website. If you have film
editing skills and would like to use your abilities in service to our Church, please
contact our office. Thank you.


Help us Help our Church
The Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration has as its purpose to restore
awareness of Christ’s presence everywhere in creation, and thus hallow God’s Name,
“on earth as it is in heaven,” by seeking the transfiguration of creation.
Your donation can help us in this challenge. Thank you.
Donate:
Mail to: The Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration
P.O. Box 7348, Santa Rosa, California 95407 USA
Orthodox Christianity Complimentary copy

The Unified Vision and Spiritual Direction of the Orthodox Patriarchs as they
call us into care for God’s Creation

Websites:
www.Orth-Transfiguration.org
www.FaceofGodfilm.com
https://www.facebook.com/christinthewildernessprogram/?ref=page_interna

Lab-grown meat firms attract six-fold increase in investment

This excellent article is from the Guardian.

Funding soared in 2020, while study shows 80% of people are open to eating meat grown in bioreactors

A cultivated chicken burger
A cultivated chicken burger. Cultivated meat products are produced in sterile facilities without antibiotics, thereby reducing the risk posed to human health by antibiotic resistance. Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum/The Guardian

Damian Carrington Environment editor@dpcarrington Tue 11 May 2021 11.00 BST

The nascent industry growing real meat in bioreactors had a record-breaking year in 2020, with investment growing sixfold and dozens of new companies being founded.

A study also indicates that 80% of people in the UK and US are open to eating meat produced in a factory rather than a field, with the researchers concluding that cultivated meat is likely to be widely accepted by the general public.

Cultivated meat can produce significantly lower climate-heating emissions than meat from methane-burping cattle and other livestock, and also requires much less land and water. Cutting today’s overconsumption of conventional meat in rich countries is seen as vital in tackling the climatecrisis.

The companies are developing commonly eaten meat, such as chicken and beef, but also tuna, lobster, horse and kangaroo. The products are produced in sterile facilities without antibiotics, thereby reducing the risk posed to human health by antibiotic resistance.

The Good Food Institute (GFI), a charity focused on sustainable proteins, found in its annual industry report that cultivated meat companies received more than €300m in investment in 2020, and the number of companies grew by 43% to 76.

It said several companies were moving out of the lab and into facilities capable of producing thousands of kilograms of meat a year. These include Mosa Meat in the Netherlands, whose founder produced the first lab-grown beef burger in 2013.

“Early moves were driven by the promise of cultivated meat – real meat with a fraction of the adverse climate impact and with no contribution to antibiotic resistance or pandemic risk – but no one knew whether the world was ready. Now we know,” said Bruce Friedrich, the executive director of GFI.

Cows in Normandy, France. A recent report suggested Europe and North America could reach ‘peak meat’ by 2025 thanks to plant-based alternatives
Cows in Normandy, France. A recent report suggested Europe and North America could reach ‘peak meat’ by 2025 thanks to plant-based alternatives. Photograph: DBPITT/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Plant-based alternatives to meat, such as the Beyond Burger, have reached the mass market, while cultivated meat will not be widely available for at least a few years. However, the backers of cell-based meat believe its authentic taste will give it an advantage and the world’s biggest conventional meat companies, such as Tyson and Cargill, are big investors in the sector.

Cultured meat was approved for sale for the first time in November in Singapore. A recent report suggested such meat would remain more expensive than regular meat until the early 2030s, but that Europe and North America could reach “peak meat” by 2025 thanks to plant-based alternatives. An analysis in 2019 suggested most meat would not come from slaughtered animals by 2040.

Acacia Smith, a policy manager at GFI Europe, said: “The cultivated meat sector had a record-breaking year in 2020. But it’s notable that much of this progress has been happening outside Europe.

“To stand a chance of meeting their climate targets and ending deforestation, governments must invest in the open-access research we need to make cultivated meat accessible and affordable.”

The research on attitudes to cultivated meat is published in the journal Foods and examined the views of 4,000 representative consumers, half in the UK and half in the US. “We found a high level of openness – 80% – in both the US and UK populations, with 40% highly likely to try and 40% somewhat or moderately likely to try,” the researchers said.

Younger generations had the greatest openness. More than 85% of those under 39 years old said they were likely to try cultivated meat. About 75% of those in older age groups said the same. On average, people said they expected cultivated meat could make up about 40% of their future meat intake.

“The results suggest that cultivated meat is likely to be widely accepted by the general public, especially the younger generations and an eager group of early adopters who appreciate its benefits,” said Keri Szejda, at Arizona State University in the US, who led the study. “These groups tend to need little encouragement to try new food innovations,”

The study was funded by Aleph Farms, an Israeli company that revealed the world’s first lab-grown steak in December 2018. Didier Toubia, the chief executive, said: “The long-term vision is to provide a better alternative to industrial livestock farming, which represents approximately 70% of global meat production today.”

GFI’s report says fundamental technological breakthroughs are not necessary to produce mass-market cultivated meat, but that engineering challenges remain to keep reducing costs.

Earlier in May, Israel’s Future Meat said it had halved the production costs of its cultivated chicken breast in the past four months, from $7.50 to $4. The company expects the cost to drop below $2 within 18 months.

HOW TO GREEN THE ORTHODOX PARISH

Coordinator of Programs & Special Assistant to the Director Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical & Interfaith Relations Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America 973.413.9375

Dear Friends,

Christ is Risen!
Three videos have been released for the “How-to” Green Your Parish Series! Please share with your networks.


“How-to” Videos

Episode 1: The Green Patriarch with Archdeacon John ChryssavgisOrthodox Observer Press Release – https://www.goarch.org/-/greening-how-to
Facebook post –  https://www.facebook.com/orthodoxobserver
YouTube videohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG4fMMon2mw


Episode 2: Greening the Parish – Practical Tips with Dr. George Nassos Orthodox Observer Press Release – https://www.goarch.org/-/greening-the-parish-2 Facebook post – https://www.facebook.com/orthodoxobserver YouTube video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64JY6Qgshtc&list=PLWopa4I5g3xAJSQNaS6gn5XpNX1Wl8xWC&index=2

Episode 3: Creation and Sacraments with Archdeacon John Chryssavgis Orthodox Observer Press Release – https://www.goarch.org/-/greening-parish-3 Facebook post – https://www.facebook.com/orthodoxobserver YouTube video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAtcSpqZ1r8&t=2s

With incredible thanks to each of you, a new video will be published each week. After the first 5 episodes are released, they will be uploaded to the Greening the Parish Resource Page (greenparish.goarch.org). Make sure to check out the page if you haven’t already!

Also, Dr. Jane Goodall’s message to the Orthodox Christian Community on Greening the Parish is available here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pru3daEaljA&list=RDCMUCTVCPFDKwtfTtPzIna-Lucg&index=2

We have been so impressed by each video, and we’re excited to have them be shared with Orthodox faithful and parishes, and others who may find the videos as a great resource.

Make sure to stay tuned each week to the Orthodox Observer online here, their Facebook page here, the Department’s Facebook page, and also the Archdiocese YouTube channel here.

If you have any questions or further suggestions for videos, please let me know!
With gratitude,

Climate Crisis & Creation Care: Eco-Economic Sustainability, Ecological Integrity and Justice

Dr Christina Nellist

These volumes (1 & 2 ) feature chapters by groups of international specialists, with expertise in different disciplines, who write from different contexts and cultures. They come together to write with authority and clarity on various aspects of the climate crisis and care for the natural world. They write either from faith-based or secular perspectives but share a vision and desire to explain why we are in this situation, ask difficult questions of us and institutions, and explain how we might affect real change.  Regardless of their expertise, they write in the hope that we – either as individuals or as decision-makers in government and civil society, will be guided to respond to the climate crisis far more quickly than is currently the case. For without swift action, we condemn future generations of human and non-human animals, to lives of intolerable climate and social instability, with little hope of regaining what humans have squandered by our collective arrogance; more explicitly, to the certain death of billions of people and species of flora and fauna, as the ‘Hothouse-Earth’ scenario becomes reality.

     Some write with bravery on topics that are rarely discussed such as corruption in government or the media, or biased fiscal systems and on challenging subjects such as population or animals as testing material or as co-workers. Some voice criticisms of governmental and institutional indifference that have brought us to this existential crisis. Others write from a scientific or legal perspective on planetary boundaries or the legal case for the right to a healthy environment, whilst others still, combine subjects such as economics and ethics, theology and dietary choices or medical unpreparedness, social welfare and mass migration.

     As a theologian and lifelong conservationist, I have always argued that people of faith and their clergy, must be engaged in these subjects, both individually and institutionally (locally and nationally) just as they are engaged in providing alms or justice for the poor, or in the provision of schools, health clinics and feeding programs or in the prescription of diets.

The climate emergency is real, it is imminent and without local action, millions, possibly billions of people and certainly billions of animals and plants species will die, if our religious institutions among others, do not ‘set the scene and grasp the opportunity’[1] given to us by God to prevent such calamities.

Expected publication Summer 2021.


[1] Refers to my chapter title.

Animal Welfare Assured Farming Systems in the UK. Don’t be fooled by advertising campaigns.

As many of you will know, our charity was a partner in the Christian Ethics of Farmed Animal Welfare research project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. We visited many farms and some slaughter houses over the course of the project and the following charts are part of the Policy Framework for Churches and Christian Organisations document (Nov 2020). For a copy see http://www1.chester.ac.uk/cefaw.

I am galvanised to write this today having seen an advertising campaign promoting one particular ‘farm assurance scheme’. This particular scheme ranks lowest in all the schemes and is just above the minimum legal standards.

What consumers should be aiming for is the best available system and so the following information – in chart form- should help you see the differences between these schemes for the different forms of animal farming.

Ideally for the sake of one’s health, for reductions in animal suffering and for the sake of the planet, one should not be eating any animal products but that is for another discussion!

EU Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals (2012-2015): the European Commission’s evaluation is finally out

This is a new post from the Eurogroup for Animals who review the above Strategy:

The Animal Welfare Strategy 2012-2015 aimed to lay the foundation for improving animal welfare standards and to ensure that they were properly applied and enforced across the EU. Eurogroup for Animals congratulates the Commission on conducting a thorough and comprehensive evaluation process drawing lessons from the previous decade activities in the area of animal welfare.

The evaluation shows that the Strategy’s implementation process clearly faced serious issues and did not deliver against its objectives or generate significant impact for animals. Given the evidence provided by the evaluation, Eurogroup for Animals appreciates the current Commission’s fresh approach: reviewing the animal welfare acquis among other actions as foreseen under the Farm to Fork strategy.

Key points 

The evaluation confirms that 4 out of 6 overarching objectives of the strategy didn’t, or only partially deliver, including: a simplified EU legislative framework for animal welfare; providing consumers and the public with appropriate information; optimising synergistic effects from the current Common Agriculture Policy (CAP); supporting international cooperation. Very little or no results were delivered in these areas. 

We did see some results on the objectives to develop tools to strengthen Member States’ compliance with existing legislation, especially with regard to the compliance with the Laying Hens Directive and the group housing of sows. However, despite these efforts, the evaluation also admits that serious compliance issues still exist with regard to the implementation of the Transport Regulation and Pig Directive. This begs the question why the Commission did not apply similar approaches to all compliance issues, e.g. by launching infringement procedures.

With regard to the objective related to the welfare of farmed fish, although several studies were conducted, this didn’t lead to any measurable results or recommendations. The planned revision of the animal welfare legislation needs to take the newly found scientific knowledge and the consumer interest into account to ensure farmed fish species are better protected at EU level.   

The lack of a monitoring mechanism and of data to effectively measure the progress or the impact of its activities, makes it very hard to measure the effectiveness of the strategy. In this respect, the strategy was ill-conceived and the Commission should draw lessons from this for the future. Although many reports and guidelines were delivered, the evaluation failed to demonstrate to what extent these have contributed to better lives for animals. 

The evaluation presents the foundation of the EU Platform for Animal Welfare and the EU reference centers as indirect results of the strategy, however, although these initiatives are applaudable, they were initiated outside of the scope of the strategy.

The evaluation of the strategy acknowledges that consumer interest in animal welfare has increased significantly over the past decade and that the strategy has not been able to meet consumer’s expectations.The evaluation shows that the Strategy failed to live up to its promises mainly due to a lack of resources, effectiveness, as well as the absence of appropriate tools to measure impact. Now it’s time to look forward though, and we agree with Commissioner Kyriakides: a lot more needs to be done to meet the expectations of EU citizens. The opportunities are there, one above all: the Animal Welfare aquis revision gives the EC a powerful tool to really change the lives of billions of animals.Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals

A deep dive into the Evaluation of the EU Strategy on Animal Welfare

Terrestrial farmed animals 

  • Despite the overall aim of the Strategy was to improve animal welfare within the EU, the legislation gap was identified, but not addressed, setting the scene for a mismatch between the relevance of the problem and the overall irrelevance of the responses. Indeed the action designed to contribute to a more uniform protection of animals across the EU lacked specificity which undermined its delivery.  
  • There was a lack of integration with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), one of the biggest financial instruments of the EU that can foster – or undermine – the implementation of existing animal welfare standards.
  • The Strategy aimed at strengthening Member States’ compliance and the evaluation concluded that “the actions and activities designed to support Member States to improve enforcement and compliance (objective 1) were the most appropriate”. However, de facto poor implementation was still recorded with regards – at least – to the Council Directives 2008/120/EC (DG SANTE audits from 2017; and 2018) and 2007/43/EC (EC, 2017), as well as the Council Regulations (EC) No 1099/2009  (CJEU, 2018) and No 1/2005 (DG SANTE audits from 2017; 2018; and 2019). 
  • The evaluation highlights that the Strategy could have been more operational and it seems difficult to draw conclusions on its overall relevance. Doubts persist on its effectiveness and coherence, and lack of data makes it impossible to assess its efficiency. Nevertheless, we welcome the overall efforts of encouraging coordination and exchange of information and best practices among Member States and, indirectly, of setting the basis for the new European Commission’s work: we fully trust the EC’s commitment to take stock of the major shortcomings of the strategy and act upon them via the EU Farm-to-Fork Strategy, thus revising animal welfare legislation with the aim to make them 1) specific to all the animals being farmed for food production and 2) easy to enforce and implement.

Fish

  • We welcome the fact that the increased consumer interest and understanding for fish welfare has been recognised and that follow-up actions for fish welfare, under objective 3,  are called for. 
  • Since 2012, the stakeholder view has changed drastically and the need to protect so far inadequately protected species, especially farmed fish species, is seen as a crucial factor for the upcoming revision of the animal welfare acquis to ensure implementable and enforceable legislative provisions for farmed fish. 
  • Although unrelated to the Strategy’s outcomes, the referenced guidelines by the Platform of Animal Welfare sub-group for farmed fish are a major accomplishment for fish welfare and need to be taken into account for the fitness check for the revision of the animal welfare legislation. 

Equines

  • We welcome that the shortcomings in terms of enforcement, non-compliance and uneven playing field have surfaced in the consultations. As a next step we would like to see specific actions from the EC to mend these shortcomings such as expansion of training activities for competent authorities, comprehensive sets of rules for equines as well as improved enforcement of penalty schemes and infringement procedures.
  • In terms of transport legislation, in order to evaluate the impact of the initiatives it is necessary to take a more quantitative approach stepping away from the questionnaires and remote evaluations, and moving towards a more experimental and comprehensive approach including animal and environment based indicators. Ultimately only embedding guidelines in a legislation accompanied by adequate and comprehensive training will give more desired outcomes.
  • A great omission is the  lack of recognition of the other equidae beyond horses. We would like to see recognition of the EU PAW work on the topic, and see the outputs of the platform to be recognised in the EU Reference Center on Welfare of Ruminants and Equines.

Cats and Dogs

  • The general objective of achieving welfare for all animals has not included cats and dogs, hence we hope that a number of already existing recommendations will be recognised in the future work of the European Commission, e.g. TRACES, transport, breeding and online sale recommendations of EU PAW.
  • Despite the study undertaken revealing a series of gaps, since 2012 no efforts have been made to fill in these gaps, e.g. to improve the collection of statistics on cats and dogs movement across the EU.
  • Trade of pets is currently not dealt with. In order to ensure a safe pet market for EU consumers that is monitored and where animals, sellers and breeders are traceable, there is a need for rules on EU pet trade.

Trade

  • We welcome that the evaluation recognises that the EU had a strong influence on slaughter standards in third countries, “as EU legislation contributed to changing the methods used in third country slaughterhouses”. This is a confirmation that the EU should look into imposing more EU animal welfare standards on imported goods. Such an approach would also contribute to address the concerns expressed by businesses regarding the lack of level playing field. 
  • We also welcome that the Commission recognised that “the challenges to the inclusion of more specific requirements on animal welfare in trade agreements are linked to the fact that animal welfare is not explicitly recognised under the World Trade Organization General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)”. This should also motivate the EU to include these considerations in its strategy around the modernisation of the WTO. We welcome the recognition that there is a need to improve coherence of trade policy with the objectives expressed by the strategy.
  • We welcome that the objective of international cooperation is seen as a long-term objective and that actions on this should continue.
  • While the evaluation states that “the issue of coherence with the trade policy has been addressed by consistently including commitments on animal welfare cooperation in Free Trade Agreements”, it does not look at the concrete result of this animal welfare cooperation started by the EU with third partners under FTAs. The reference to the case of Chile is outdated as it occurred before the period covered by the strategy. 

Wild animals 

  • The welfare of wild animals, even though vaguely mentioned in the Strategy, has not been addressed by any of the Strategy’s actions
  • So far, the EU has failed to address the impact of wildlife trade on animal welfare, both at EU level and in the context of CITES. Only two CITES Resolutions address the welfare of traded animals and no efforts have been made to fill in these gaps.
  • We welcome that most stakeholders stressed that this lack of protection for wild animals was a major issue for the implementation of the Strategy. 

Lessons From Implementation of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy

Mixed record highlights steps still needed to turn the tide towards better management.

Distilling progress and management developments during seven years of its application, the report examines how the policy has performed since coming into effect in 2014, the extent to which its goals were met, and important conclusions for anyone working in this field.

REPORT from The Pew Charitable Trusts, March 22, 2021Topics: Ocean Conservation Projects: Ending Overfishing in Northwestern Europe Tags: Fisheries management & International policy

Overview

Under the European Union’s current Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), 2020 had been targeted as the year to achieve a major change in fisheries management: sustainable exploitation rates in place for all stocks. Despite progress, the EU did not meet this goal.

The story of the policy’s implementation begins in 2013, when, after decades of overfishing and ineffective fisheries management, the European Parliament and the EU’s then-28 member state governments agreed on far-reaching reforms to the previous CFP.1 These included setting sustainable catch limits with the objective to restore stocks, maintain healthy ecosystems and safeguard stable, profitable fisheries for the EU fleet. In 2014, the reformed CFP entered into force, with a focus on bringing fishing pressure in line with scientific advice. The policy required fisheries ministers to ensure sustainable exploitation rates “by 2015 where possible and on a progressive, incremental basis at the latest by 2020 for all stocks.”

Now, after the 2020 deadline has passed, it’s clear that the reforms have brought progress. But the data also shows that policymakers are still setting too many catch limits above the levels recommended by scientists, with decision-making suffering from a short-term approach and lower ambition than the policy requires.

In 2008, The Pew Charitable Trusts began working with 192 organisations in the OCEAN2012 coalition to ensure that a reformed CFP set ambitious, science-based and achievable objectives. In the years since the reforms came into force, Pew and several other groups have pushed to hold decision-makers accountable in the efforts to end overfishing in North-Western European waters and allow stocks to recover to healthy, productive levels.

This report presents eight key lessons learned from this work to help implement the EU’s fisheries policy, each lesson augmented by a deeper look at a specific issue. The experiences in implementing the EU policy show that:

  1. Good management works.
    As the experience of fisheries managers around the world has shown, when steps are taken to safeguard the sustainability of stocks and fisheries for the long term, the results include environmental, economic and social benefits.
  2. Decreased ambition since 2013 led to under-implementation.
    Decision-makers approached implementation of most major pillars of the CFP pragmatically, too often showing less political will than needed to deliver the reforms as intended. This led to diminished expectations from stakeholders and EU institutions on what could be delivered, almost from the beginning.
  3. Decisions often favoured maintaining the status quo rather than changing behaviour.
    Despite ambitious CFP goals intended to change outcomes in the water, decision-makers often adjusted management measures to fit existing patterns of fishing – to the detriment of achieving the objectives.
  4. EU decision-making remains siloed.
    Fisheries policy processes often follow their own internal logic, so a focus on fisheries yields and economic outcomes may overlook other priorities, such as the urgent need to deliver on wider EU environmental requirements and commitments.
  5. Short-term thinking persists in EU management.
    A long-term perspective – one of the key aims of the 2014 CFP – often took a back seat to immediate political expediency. For example, fisheries ministers continued to set excessive catch limits on the basis that they were a “compromise” between short- and long-term aims or were necessary for unexplained economic reasons.
  6. Clarity on progress is too often undermined by unclear and inconsistent reporting.
    Rather than measuring progress against the aims of the CFP, official reporting often uses irrelevant or changing benchmarks, such as trend comparisons, which frequently do not correspond to the CFP’s legal objectives. This confuses the public about the policy’s progress and leads stakeholders to draw different conclusions on priorities.
  7. Opaque decision-making hampers progress.
    A lack of public communication on the scientific basis for European Commission proposals on management measures such as catch limits, and the rationale for legislators’ subsequent decisions, too often prevented scrutiny of decision-making by stakeholders and EU institutions, and undermined trust in the process.
  8. Stocks shared with non-EU countries present challenges in achieving CFP aims.
    Jointly managed stocks require more complex decision-making than stocks that are managed by one entity. That increases the need for collaborative improvements, especially in the wake of the UK’s departure from the EU.

To realise the ambitions set by legislators in 2013, EU policymakers need to take the final steps to implement the CFP in full. The health of marine ecosystems, European fisheries, and the communities that depend on them require the sustainable, ecosystem-based management approaches set out in the policy, without exceptions and loopholes. The findings in this review of progress can help guide decision-makers and stakeholders on the work that remains to fully implement the CFP, and in shaping future priorities for European fisheries.

Summary of the Common Fisheries Policy

The reformed CFP approved by EU policymakers in 2013 came into force the next year and established updated rules for conserving fish stocks and managing European fishing fleets. The CFP basic regulation,2 agreed by the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, articulates a range of objectives in its Article 2 and articulates principles of good governance in Article 3.

Overall, Article 2 spells out the broad goal to ensure that fishing activities are:

  • Environmentally sustainable in the long term.
  • Managed in a way that is consistent with the objectives of achieving economic, social and employment benefits, and of contributing to the availability of food supplies.

The CFP sets objectives and principles in Articles 2 and 3 that can be grouped into five themes:

  1. Fisheries management rules, benchmarks and reference points, including:
    • Applying the precautionary approach to manage risk. (See Box 1.)
    • Using reference points tied to maximum sustainable yield (MSY) (see Box 2) to require that:
      • Stock biomass for all harvested species be restored and maintained above levels that can produce MSY.
      • Total allowable catches (TACs) be set in accordance with MSY levels by 2015 where possible, and by 2020 at the latest for remaining stocks.
      • Management measures be set in accordance with the best available scientific advice.
  2. Wider environmental aims, such as:
    • An ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management.
    • The need to be consistent with other EU environmental legislation, in particular the objective of achieving what is generally referred to as Good Environmental Status by 2020.3
  3. Broader socio-economic aims, such as:
    • Providing conditions for economically viable and competitive fishing and processing.
    • Contributing to a fair standard of living for those who depend on fishing activities.
    • Promoting coastal fisheries, “taking into account socio-economic aspects”.
  4. Rules on a landing obligation to eliminate the discarding of fish back into the sea, to reduce unwanted catches and to gradually ensure that all catches are brought ashore. This approach requires fishers to bring their catches ashore in most cases and count the total against their quota allowances.
  5. General policy aims, such as:
    • The need for a long-term perspective as well as a regionalised approach to ensure less top-down decision-making.
    • Appropriate involvement of stakeholders, in particular through advisory councils established for specific regions or sectors to allow stakeholders to provide fisheries management recommendations to the Commission and member state governments.
    • An approach that takes into account the interests of consumers and fish producers.

Box 1: The Precautionary Approach

The precautionary approach is a globally recognised concept in environmental management that calls for certain actions when data may be limited. Article 6.2 of the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement defines it as an approach in which “the absence of adequate scientific information shall not be used as a reason for postponing or failing to take conservation and management measures”.4

Box 2: Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY)

MSY refers to the largest average catch that can theoretically be taken from a stock without having an impact on the long-term size of the population.5 Managing fish stocks against MSY benchmarks is a key component of the CFP.

The lessons learned

Following a lengthy legislative process leading up to 2013, EU policymakers agreed ambitious goals and practical policy steps, most critically that all stocks would be fished at sustainable levels by 2020. Since the new policy took effect seven years ago, the EU has made significant progress in some areas, but much remains to be done, particularly in setting all catch limits no higher than the levels recommended in the best available scientific advice.

A variety of factors have influenced the policy process over the years – some procedural, some practical and some more a question of political will. These eight lessons learned portray the range of issues. In the sections that follow, each is detailed along with a case study or a deeper look at the detail.

1. Good management works

Science-based steps to safeguard the sustainability of stocks and fisheries for the long term in European waters have produced multiple benefits, just as they have for fisheries managers around the world in recent years. Where overfishing has been brought under control, stocks have recovered quickly. For example, North Sea plaice stocks were at healthy levels in 2020 after a decade of more cautious exploitation.6 Better management has led to higher yields and record-high profits for the fishing industry on an aggregate level.7 Such trends provide strong evidence to support continued improvement: The right decisions in line with scientific advice lead to positive outcomes.

Although progress has been made since 2013, it has been too slow overall to completely achieve the CFP’s aims. The 2015 and 2020 Article 2 deadlines to achieve MSY exploitation rates have not been achieved “for all stocks” as required by the reformed policy. (See Figure 1.) The inability to meet the legal deadline, despite trend improvements, stands out as a major shortfall for the current CFP’s implementation, echoing problems with earlier iterations8 and risking the credibility of future political commitments.

A deeper dive: Reductions in fishing pressure

The EU has reduced overall fishing pressure since the policy was reformed in 2013.9 Although many catch limits continue to be set in excess of scientific advice, on average the limits have been brought closer to the levels that scientists recommend. The proportion of assessed stocks fished at pressures higher than the legal benchmark dropped from 52% in 2013 to 38% in 2018, according to the 2020 official report by the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF).10 (See Figure 1.) The committee provides expert technical advice to the Commission on fisheries issues.

Embedding specific biomass targets and fishing pressure requirements in the CFP, with specific deadlines for the latter, has helped bring about this success. As a result, in 2020 the Commission, which is responsible for proposing legislation and overseeing implementation, expected that in that year “more than 99% of landings in the Baltic, North Sea and the Atlantic managed exclusively by the EU will come from sustainably managed fisheries”.11

Despite this success, measuring progress for a subset of EU stocks using a tonnage metric gives an incomplete picture. Such an approach does not account for data-limited stocks (i.e., those for which MSY data is not available) and excludes some important stocks (e.g., mackerel and blue whiting) that are shared with neighbouring, non-EU countries, such as Iceland and Norway.

Significantly, the CFP requires sustainable exploitation rates for all stocks, not just for those fished in large volumes. This is an important distinction because the size of a stock does not necessarily indicate its importance in terms of biodiversity. So the 99% figure, bolstered by a small number of well-managed, high-volume stocks, hides a large number of stocks that may be smaller by volume, but no less important, that are not being managed sustainably. Measuring progress at the stock level paints a less positive picture. (See Figure 1.)12

Despite these misgivings, it should be recognised that improved management has resulted in positive socio-economic impacts. In 2019, the Commission13 and STECF confirmed “continued … record-high net profits”14 on aggregate across the EU fleet. Lower operational costs and the recovery of some stocks appear to be driving these trends, but the Commission also notes that “fleets targeting over-exploited stocks tend to register poorer economic performance.”15 That’s not a surprise because these populations have not had an opportunity to recover from overfishing. 

The aggregate improvements, however, mask two underlying trends: a reduction in jobs across the sector,  where employment in “full time equivalents (FTE) has been decreasing on average by 1.2% per year since 2008, partly due to the decrease in the fleet’s capacity”;16 and variation in profitability across different fleet segments (e.g., fishing technique or fishing vessel length categories), including lower profits in the smaller-scale fleet.17

2. Decreased ambition since 2013 led to under-implementation

After concluding an ambitious CFP reform in 2013, EU institutions approached implementation with less ambition. The pace of change slowed in the face of heavy lobbying from a range of stakeholders, including fishing industry organisations, and what often appeared to be diminished political will to deliver the reforms. Decision-makers repeatedly chose interpretations of legal provisions that had the effect of weakening the impact of CFP requirements and moulding policy to the status quo rather than driving needed behaviour changes.

Commission proposals on annual catch limits and longer-term legislation such as multi-annual plans (MAPs) have tended to pre-empt the Council’s diminished ambitions by proposing measures that fail to live up to the CFP’s requirements. The Council, consisting of representatives of the 27 member state governments, agrees legislation with the European Parliament – or, in the case of fishing limits, has the power to set these alone. Too often, it seemed the Commission, which starts the legislation process, would make proposals with the expectation that the Council would water them down. This allowed for levels of fishing in excess of scientific advice as well as exemptions that slowed changes in patterns of fishing behaviour. Such reduced ambition can be seen in the Commission’s reporting on progress (see Lesson 6), which has consistently introduced lower benchmarks to judge implementation success than those in the CFP.

Delivery of CFP aims also has often been undermined by the Council’s prerogative to set catch limits. (See Lesson 5.) The stock recovery objectives are unlikely to be achieved if excessive exploitation rates continue, or even if fishing pressure is kept at the maximum level advised by scientists. Such an approach leaves little room for uncertainty or error.

Throughout the seven years of CFP implementation, the Council has generally chosen the maximum level of catches advised by scientists, or levels in excess of this, with only a few examples of more precautionary catch limits. The Council has continued to choose excessive exploitation rates, with member state fisheries ministers adjusting their decision-making on annual catch limits only incrementally as deadlines came and went.

Members of the European Parliament, which decides on legislation in tandem with the Council, often attempted to hold the other EU institutions accountable for CFP implementation, for example in votes on the Baltic MAP in 2015, but in the end would not or could not prevent overfishing from continuing.18

Parliament does not have a direct say in annual decisions on catch limits, despite the involvement of members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in most other decision-making processes.19 As the co-legislator for most EU fisheries policies, including the CFP regulation, the Parliament could have played a more hands-on role, ensuring that the CFP’s requirements were met.

A deeper dive: Moving goalposts

In the course of proposing and setting annual catch limits and other fisheries legislation, EU decision-makers have routinely chosen lower technical benchmarks and higher risks than foreseen in the CFP.

Contrary to the precautionary approach required by the policy, which calls for greater caution in decision-making when information is lacking, the Commission has tended to propose – and Council has often set – limits in excess of scientific advice for stocks with limited data or for which MSY advice is not available.20 Another worrying development has been the removal of catch limits for several species since 2014 (for example, for dab, flounder, greater forkbeard and black scabbardfish).21 This has effectively reduced constraints on fishing pressure and exempted stocks from key CFP implementation requirements, such as the landing obligation. (See Lesson 3.) In some instances, it also has hindered the collection of data on catches of stocks because different reporting requirements may apply.

Policymakers also downgraded the technical benchmarks in tools intended to deliver long-term sustainability. The introduction of multi-annual plans for fisheries had been a key feature of reforms to promote regionalisation of the CFP and a longer-term view. As planned, the process would allow measures to be tailored for different sea regions for longer periods of time. But rather than shift perspective and ensure consideration of each region’s needs, the MAPs too often became tools to avoid applying the policy’s rules.

Decision-makers would legislate for exemptions, while omitting the ecosystem protections the MAPs were intended to include. After watered-down plans took effect, these laws were considered as equal to the CFP in day-to-day decision-making at working level, effectively amending it in practice. This meant legislators had reduced the ambitions that legislators announced in 2013 only a few years later, but with less public fanfare.

Instead of treating the required MSY exploitation rate as an upper limit, Council and Parliament legislators defined the requirement in MAPs to include “ranges” around it, including levels in excess of the highest rate compatible with achieving MSY. Too often, those negotiating the initial MAPs did not heed the warnings in scientific advice on range estimations22 that this approach would bring more risk and less productivity. But it soon became standardised in all regions, along with loopholes in successive MAPs, such as exemptions for some so-called “bycatch stocks” from the MSY aim altogether.23

A 2019 analysis by Pew and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs)24 of the Baltic Sea MAP, the first agreed by the Council and Parliament, shows how policy objectives were degraded in this initial plan and the impact of such reduced ambition on subsequent MAPs.25 Despite resistance from some MEPs, the Parliament ultimately voted each time to agree with the Council’s vision after securing some important – but limited – improvements in the negotiations. As a result, each MAP introduced new flexibilities that made it more difficult to achieve the CFP’s aims.

Often, the detailed measures these plans were intended to contain, tailored to the specifics of each fishery and region, were omitted or forgotten as the process unfolded. The remaining detail prioritised flexibility to increase fishing pressure over what should have been the overriding priority: setting sustainable catch limits with the objective to restore stocks, maintain healthy ecosystems and safeguard stable, profitable fisheries for the EU fleet. Such an approach led to troubling outcomes in the water, maintained status quo fishing practices and provided the flexibility to fish at higher rates that compromise sustainability. This set dangerous precedents for subsequent MAPs that compromised ambitions around fisheries management more broadly.26

3. Decisions often favoured maintaining the status quo rather than changing behaviour

Policymakers intended that the reforms agreed in 2013 would transform EU fisheries management and change behaviour on the water, which would result in more sustainable and profitable outcomes. Although reductions in fishing mortality have in many cases started to realise such outcomes, decisions have too often been moulded to preserve the status quo rather than change it.

At the European level, ministers in the Council still take the scientific advice on annual catch limits and the Commission’s proposals as a starting point for negotiations that then seek to maximise the tonnage of quota that each member state can “win” for its fleet in the short term. When the reforms have had an impact in the water – in reducing fishing pressure or requiring less wasteful practices – decision-makers have often sought loopholes to allow status quo activity to continue. This has included the introduction of new provisions to allow bycatch of depleted stocks at levels well above scientific advice, reinterpreting the legal requirements on fishing pressure to allow flexible ranges, and removing catch limits altogether. These end results have undermined implementation of the reforms and safeguards and brought new, unintended consequences.

At the national level, the allocation of quota tends to reinforce patterns of existing fishing activity rather than incentivise more sustainable practices. To a large extent, these trends reflect national policies and business decisions. Important CFP requirements that could have an impact on these socio-economic trends have so far been under-implemented. For example, Article 17 requires transparent environmental, social and economic criteria for the allocation of fishing opportunities within member states and allows incentives for lower-impact fishing, but a lack of transparency in decision-making persists, at the expense of social and environmental criteria.27 This represents a failure by member state governments to take action at the national level after agreeing these reforms at the EU level and including the requirement in the CFP.

Case study: Limited implementation of the landing obligation

The landing obligation requires “all catches of regulated commercial species on-board to be landed and counted against quota”.28 Policymakers intended this requirement to be a fundamental and ambitious change from the previous CFP that would affect every facet of the policy’s implementation.

Under the previous CFP, fishers often discarded unwanted fish, dead or alive, in the sea for various regulatory or economic reasons. Sometimes fishers discarded small, less valuable fish of a species for which they had a quota, hoping to later catch higher-value larger fish of that same species and to maximise the value of their quota. In other instances, fishers who had already exceeded their quota for a species may have discarded some they caught while fishing for other species.

The current landing obligation rules are intended to reduce, as much as possible, unwanted catch and the amount discarded from vessels. Policymakers made this motivation clear when they included in the introductory text to the CFP regulation the statement that “unwanted catches and discards constitute a substantial waste and negatively affect the sustainable exploitation of marine biological resources and marine ecosystems and the financial viability of fisheries”.29 And the policy had been a top political priority for several countries in the CFP reform process.

Still, implementation did not flow smoothly. In many regions, member states developed regional “discard plans” that called for the Commission to backload the roll-out towards the end of the implementation period, which meant that only tentative progress was made in the early years. That left implementation for most stocks and fisheries to one “big bang” phase in 2019, which ensured that many difficult issues were not addressed until relatively late in the process, an approach that led to a more pronounced impact as fleets adjusted in the final year. In some instances, the perception of potential negative effects led ministers to decide to increase catch limits as a political “sweetener” to aid implementation.30 Although the full landing obligation came into force on 1 January 2019 for all fisheries in all regions under the CFP,31 crucial supporting measures and changes in fishing activity had not fully materialised by the end of 2020.

With each phase of roll-out, the amount of unwanted or unintended catch became more visible and subject to new obligations that could not be ignored. Decision-makers began to see bycatch as a nuisance that risked getting in the way of economic returns. As a result, the number of exemptions and adjustments to catch limits grew. The extent of exemptions to discard plans, agreed regionally by member states, then made the rules more complex and hampered control by enforcement agencies such as the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA).32 Initially intended to be temporary, these discard plans effectively became permanent technical regulations. The changes made assessing total catches for stock assessments even harder. Coupled with increases in catch limits, the exemptions helped mould this reform to fit the current pattern of fishing activities, rather than incentivising behaviour changes or the management of quota to result in more sustainable and less wasteful practices.

Non-compliance with the landing obligation in effect meant continued illegal discarding and compromised the integrity of stock assessments and catch decisions. It also risks undoing much of the progress made in bringing catches closer to scientific advice. These risks remain underappreciated and are not accounted for in EU decision-making on catches, which continues to assume full compliance with the landing obligation.

Requiring the use of new technologies can help. Without remote electronic monitoring (REM), such as cameras onboard vessels to control and prevent discarding, managers cannot accurately gauge how much discarding persists. Official reports conclude that compliance has been low,33 which increases the need to mitigate the risk of excessive fishing mortality. Rather than setting precautionary catch limits, limits were often inflated, based on optimistic assumptions about the coverage of, and compliance with, the landing obligation.34

This reality compromises another major CFP objective that should have been complementary—sustainable exploitation rates.35 A significant amount of resources and political capital have been invested in securing exemptions from the landing obligation and quota flexibilities. If that effort had been invested in ensuring that the necessary tools were in place to improve monitoring and control, the EU would have better managed fisheries and would be closer to meeting the CFP’s aims.

4. EU decision-making remains siloed

The CFP set several objectives to safeguard ecosystems and achieve “Good Environmental Status” as defined by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).36 Such a status goes beyond fisheries productivity to more general ecosystem health. Still, despite these aims and explicit links, EU fisheries policy remains insufficiently geared towards delivering the objectives in practice. Scientists’ understanding of threats to biodiversity and the effects of climate change on European fisheries has advanced over the last seven years, highlighting a growing need for more precaution and ecosystem-based management, as recognised by the EU’s Green Deal and Biodiversity Strategy and predecessor directives.

During the same period, however, EU fisheries managers responsible for implementing the CFP have taken bigger risks with the functioning of ecosystems than were foreseen in 2013. Fisheries decisions frequently contradict the wider aims of EU policy. At the same time, the structures within the Commission, and reporting across and between institutions, can blur the role of fisheries management in meeting the EU’s ambitious environmental objectives.

Structural change, along with more democratic oversight and accountability from all three institutions, is needed to turn this around. The absence of both implementing steps and official reporting on the achievement of these particular objectives demonstrates the lack of priority given.

Many implementation decisions explicitly prioritise commercial value over other important considerations, such as ecosystem functioning, rebuilding of depleted stocks and conservation of all fish species. For example, introducing different objectives for less valuable “bycatch stocks” or even removing catch limits for data-poor stocks is driven by economics but directly conflicts with the CFP’s aims. Poor recruitment across many stocks – shortfalls in the expected addition of younger fish to the fishery – in recent years reflects uncertain or insufficiently understood ecosystem trends, such as higher-than-expected natural mortality. Failure to adopt an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management means that the combined effects of anthropogenic pressures like overfishing and climate change on marine food webs remain poorly understood and have not been given enough consideration in fisheries management decision-making.

The EU has persistently failed to bring coherence to decision-making in this regard. In individual member state ministries and in the Commission, fisheries officials too often do not work directly with those responsible for environmental policy. It has been routine and accepted that fisheries policies can work against the achievement of environmental objectives, even as political leaders bolster their environmental commitments in public and on the world stage.

EU fisheries policy must be embedded in the delivery of the EU’s Green Deal,37 Biodiversity Strategy38 and other international commitments. The Commission’s annual fisheries management proposals should set out explicitly how they help deliver on wider commitments and explain what will be done to reconcile fisheries policies that run counter to these other policies. The EU’s Directorate-General for Environment and the European Parliament’s Environment Committee must have a greater say in fisheries policy, with more opportunity to intervene when fisheries policy conflicts with other EU aims. 

A deeper dive: Coherence with environmental policy aims often lacking

Each year, the Commission reports on indicators for economic performance, fishing pressure and stock recovery benchmarks, but it provides little information to the public on the policy’s success in delivering several key metrics. Among those are:

  • Compliance with the ecosystem approach in Article 2.3 of the CFP.
  • Coherence with the MSFD objective of achieving Good Environmental Status in Article 2.5.j, for which the fisheries requirements have not been met.
  • Establishment of fish stock recovery areas in Article 8 of the CFP.
  • Conservation measures necessary for compliance with obligations under EU environmental legislation in Article 11 of the CFP.
  • Incentivising fishing with reduced environmental impact in Article 17 of the CFP.39

Although the responsibility to implement several of these measures lies with member states, the lack of clear reporting leaves NGOs40 attempting to plug the information gap. The regionalised processes under which member states were supposed to agree conservation measures have almost entirely been focused instead on implementing measures for, and exemptions from, the landing obligation.

In specific cases, the Commission has used its powers under Article 12 to intervene where there is a severe threat to marine biological resources, or to drive improvements in technical measures for severely depleted stocks – for example, Celtic Sea cod in 2019 – usually in the face of opposition from the Council.41 Development of mixed fisheries advice by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has allowed the Commission and the Council to move beyond single species considerations. (ICES is an intergovernmental marine science organisation that provides impartial evidence on the state and sustainable use of the seas and oceans.) Still, even in these cases, the scenarios that are consistent with the ecosystem aims of the CFP are generally overlooked in favour of options that deliver short-term economic returns for commercially important species.

5. Short-term thinking persists in EU management

Short-term economic and political goals have too often taken priority over a longer-term perspective – one of the key aims of the reformed CFP. Some of the excessive catch limits provide examples of this, with some cod stocks, such as North Sea cod,42 being overfished while heading towards collapse, and others, such as Eastern Baltic cod, continuing to be fished even after their populations had crashed.43 When risky decisions led to foreseeable consequences in subsequent stock status, they were often greeted with surprise, dissatisfaction with the scientific process or requests for new guidance that maintained the same approach. Future decisions must account explicitly for their effects over a period longer than one year. If ministers in the Council are unwilling to do this, the Commission should publish impact assessments that look past single-year economic returns and consider wider EU policies and legislation.

Among the factors that appear to have hampered progress are the continued short-term focus of fisheries ministers in the Council when setting annual catch limits (see case study below); the opacity of the Council process (see Lesson 7), which is subject to heavy lobbying; and the continued use of socio-economic arguments as justification for overfishing.

In addition, policymakers too often used the flexibility in MAPs, the tools that should deliver a longer-term perspective, to make annual decisions focused primarily on short-term returns. Collectively, these factors amounted to a step backwards from previous long-term management plans that had delivered in practice and held ministers to their responsibilities to recover individual stocks.

Case study: Council process for setting catch limits

Despite proven improvements in returns from well-managed fisheries, industry leaders often warn of severe economic disruption44 if the CFP is fully implemented. Such a short-term outlook is in turn reflected in the total allowable catch (TAC) decisions made by fisheries ministers who sit in the Council. The power to set such TACs allows them to agree decisively in one meeting, but often in a manner that does not reflect stock management that will lead to longer-term stability.

Making these decisions at a single annual meeting boosts the pressure on all decision-makers involved in the competitive diplomatic process, especially for member states seeking to have their demands heard by the presidency and Commission. This reality encourages horse-trading and a race to the bottom – dynamics that routinely result in late-night meetings where complex last-minute decisions and deals are made that may conflict with the scientific advice. As a result, catch limit numbers tend to increase throughout the course of each Council meeting, rather than be brought closer to the science or the CFP legal requirement. This approach provides stakeholders, media and the public with little transparency on how decisions were reached. 

Such short-term thinking also tends to put off remedial measures, meaning that when they are finally put in place they may be drastic and economically damaging in the longer term. Take, for example, deliberations over Baltic Sea cod stocks. Severe reductions proved necessary for 2020 TACs following years of counterproductive overfishing, even as CFP deadlines were looming. The issues were foreseeable and foreseen.45

6. Clarity on progress is too often undermined by unclear and inconsistent reporting

The public does not get clear information on the CFP’s performance. Rather than reporting against the policy’s aims and objectives, the Commission continues to report against less relevant benchmarks – such as the “safe biological limits” criterion or trends over time – or it changes the benchmarks each year for reasons that remain unexplained.

For example, introduction of a “tonnage landings” criterion just before the 2020 deadline, despite such an approach contradicting the CFP’s intent, seemed driven more by political expediency than as a test of whether the aim for sustainable exploitation rates for all stocks was met. Such decision-making can leave the public confused about whether the policy’s shortcomings have been addressed. And the lack of information can prompt stakeholders to draw very different conclusions on priorities, reacting to decisions with competing perceptions of progress, and leaving them unwilling or unable to reach consensus on important management measures. The Commission must publish more precise official assessments of progress each year, based on the CFP’s objectives, particularly in its 2022 review of CFP implementation.

Case study: Limited European Commission reporting on stock recovery and exploitation rates

The EU has published only limited information on progress in achieving the CFP’s biomass stock recovery objectives in Article 2, making it difficult for stakeholders to assess the data gaps and how they might be filled. Independent scientists have attempted to plug these gaps, with analyses of progress46 towards the CFP’s objectives that paint a less positive picture than official Commission reporting. Tentative steps by the Commission towards providing some data through the STECF on the specific benchmarks in the legal objective came only recently47 under pressure from NGOs, and the data cover only a small number of stocks. Pursuing specific goals, such as the CFP’s biomass objective, is difficult if progress is not being measured routinely.

Where more sustainable management has been implemented, biomass has increased, both in the aggregate and in specific cases. However, this important lesson – and good news story – risks being lost in the patchy data published by the EU on biomass trends. Individual cases, such as cod in the Baltic48 and Celtic49 seas, also paint a troubling picture of once-productive stocks overfished until their foreseeable crash, followed by continued exemptions to overfish now severely depleted populations. Exemptions and subtle changes to objectives for bycatch stocks then make it impossible to achieve CFP objectives, even if a shift in goals has never been formally announced. 

To provide a full picture of the policy’s performance, therefore, it is critical that the Commission should ask scientists to provide assessments of progress against the biomass objective. The current lack of clarity has had a practical effect, too: Rather than aiming to keep stocks at productive levels (i.e., higher biomass levels), some decisions have been based around riskier decision-making, with managers simply aiming to avoid stock collapse or, even worse, to maintain catches of stocks that are already dangerously depleted.

Separately, stakeholders have had widely contrasting perceptions of policy decisions that influence exploitation rates and fishing pressure, particularly the setting of annual catch limits. Take, for example, the reaction to the Council’s 2020 catch limits. The Commission concluded they were a great success because of their focus on landings (see Lesson 1 – A deeper dive) and measures to limit damage for bycatch stocks.50 Environmental NGOs, on the other hand, were more negative, focusing on specific CFP requirements, the failure to meet the 2020 deadline and the continued overfishing of depleted stocks.51 Large fishing industry organisations readily accepted the official optimism on progress.52 

Whether 2020 catch limits were in line with the scientific reference points required in the CFP should have been a matter of objective fact and law, not opinion. But because each constituency had a different perception of the original objective, the conclusions were different, leading to frustration among many close to the policy decisions – and confusion for the public.

EU citizens may not realise that policymakers have sometimes chosen risky levels of fishing that do not meet the legal mandate – and that can damage the ecosystem – when management measures or stock statuses are inappropriately presented as unavoidable biological trends rather than political choices. Clearer reporting against the democratically agreed objectives would aid accountability and build better understanding.

7. Opaque decision-making hampers progress

Decision-making that is democratically accountable, transparent and based on scientific evidence is a requirement that goes beyond the CFP’s objectives. EU treaties require clear institutional responsibilities and accountability to EU citizens. In the context of the CFP’s environmental provisions, the EU must apply the precautionary principle. (See Box 1.) The EU also has signed onto the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention, 1998).53

Despite this, the process of decision-making under the CFP remains unnecessarily difficult to follow for both stakeholders and the public. These issues make it harder for those interested to clearly understand the rationale for specific decisions. These factors often foster mistrust among stakeholders. In some instances, the lack of accountability can lead to decisions that seem counter to CFP requirements, often with worse outcomes on the water.

The Council’s behind-closed-doors decision-making may be the most harmful example of this, but improvements by each of the institutions are needed to achieve transparency and secure good policy outcomes. For example, the Commission has generally not published the rationale for its proposals on catch limits that exceed the scientific advice, nor clarified what the scientific advice actually is in cases where the basis for the published advice does not match the justification for a catch limit. In July 2020, however, the Commission announced54 steps to improve the transparency of its proposals and associated processes around Council decisions on catch limits. It implemented these steps in late 2020, improving the process for 2021 catch limits.55 In the European Parliament, voting is inherently more transparent, but accountability can become less clear as MEPs strike final deals with the Council on joint legislation, another process carried out behind closed doors.

Stakeholder processes sometimes worsen the transparency of decision-making rather than improve it. For example, Advisory Councils (ACs) organised by region or fisheries sector are intended to bring together industry representatives and other stakeholders to advise the EU institutions and member states. Their involvement can allow difficult implementation issues to be discussed openly and practical solutions proposed. Some ACs have good track records of providing useful advice, but others have been less successful, sometimes choosing not to provide any advice because consensus could not be reached or producing “lowest common denominator” texts that avoid controversy by removing substance.

Both of these outcomes risk hampering policymaking because they can result in decision-makers bypassing the AC process and listening more to individual interests’ lobbying, or the obfuscation of key trade-offs and practicalities, which adds to the opacity of decisions made behind closed doors. By their nature, AC discussions are often contentious. Bringing advisory council procedures closer into line with the legal requirements of the CFP – for example, on the need for an impartial chair and the accurate presentation of minority positions – as well as ensuring that public funding is contingent on following these rules, would help make these processes more transparent.

Case study: Council decision-making behind closed doors

Despite the 2013 CFP reforms, Council decision-making remains nearly as opaque as it was before, with politicians taking technical decisions on the exploitation of fish stocks in late-night meetings behind closed doors. Discussions in the Council chamber are not recorded, but even if they were, most negotiations on catch limits are carried out through shuttle diplomacy among different delegation rooms in the Council building, a reality that frustrates any attempt to record positions. The competitive diplomatic process for each member state to have its demands heard by the presidency and Commission encourages deal-making behind the scenes that often contradicts stated policy aims. Catch limit numbers tend to increase throughout the course of each Council meeting rather than gradually being brought closer to the science or the CFP legal requirement.

Until 2020, proposals on catch limits were frequently not published or were made public only after the Council process had been completed. Gauging the extent to which these proposals match scientific advice requires investigative work by outside observers. Mismatches between catch limit areas or stocks and the scientific advice, and complex landing obligation adjustments, make it difficult if not impossible to compare two publicly available numbers to assess whether science is being followed, but observers are asked to take it on trust that all decisions are “in line with the latest scientific advice”.56

Box 3. Ombudsman Exposes CFP Opacity

Following years of transparency failings57 around the Council’s setting of total allowable catches for certain fish stocks, the European Ombudsman opened an investigation in 2019 that found that the Council’s opaque decision-making constituted what the office called maladministration.58 The Ombudsman concluded that “the Council has failed fully to grasp the critical link between democracy and the transparency of decision-making regarding matters that have a significant impact on the wider public. This is all the more important when the decision-making relates to the protection of the environment”. It is not surprising that this conclusion arose from a complaint by an environmental NGO (ClientEarth) rather than an institutional impetus to improve accountability.

All of this leaves the public unable to judge the merits of positions taken by member state governments because these positions are generally secret. Individual member states in turn reject attempts59 to assign responsibility for overfishing on the basis that decisions were driven by others. Furthermore, this limitation tends to receive limited scrutiny or media reporting when communicating the outcome, leaving official press releases unchallenged. An investigation by the European Ombudsman in 2019 highlighted many of these same issues.60 (See Box 3.)

8. Stocks shared with non-EU countries present challenges in achieving CFP aims

Fish caught by EU fishers move between EU and non-EU waters, such as those of Norway, the Faroe Islands and now the UK – so-called third countries that make their own fisheries management decisions. Data from the Commission, and observers such as the New Economics Foundation, shows that stocks shared with such countries are more likely to be overfished.61 That reality indicates that the process of agreeing on sustainable limits can be more difficult when third countries are involved in decision-making.

Overcoming obstacles to sustainable management when working with non-EU countries is critical, particularly post-Brexit, with the EU and UK negotiating new joint management arrangements. Governance of widely distributed stocks in the North-East Atlantic is complex and requires stable collaboration based on shared principles of sustainability and science-based decision-making to secure good management and to allow the EU to meet its CFP commitments.62 The EU must show leadership in international negotiations to bring management of shared stocks in line with shared commitments and to ensure that third countries are scrutinised on their policies.

A deeper dive: Shared stocks and CFP implementation

The ongoing overfishing of pelagic stocks in the North-East Atlantic, due in part to disagreements over shares of catch between the EU and third countries, highlights the difficulties in ensuring sustainable management without more robust international frameworks and the important role for the EU in continuing to work towards improvements in critical regional fisheries management organisations. These international bodies are made up of countries that share a practical interest in managing and conserving fish stocks in a particular region,63 in this instance the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC).

Both the EU and the UK must heed the lessons of decades of history under this CFP and its predecessors to avoid short-term decision-making and the unsustainable practices that have hampered fisheries management during that period. This is particularly important in light of the UK’s positions on post-Brexit management, which have signalled a lower degree of ambition64 on sustainability safeguards. The UK’s domestic fisheries bill65 potentially undermines the requirement to fish sustainably. In addition, its approach to negotiations on the joint future EU-UK framework66 included language suggesting scientific advice could be traded off against other factors such as “socio-economic aspects”, although the framework agreement reached by the EU and UK in December 2020 included strengthened sustainability safeguards.

The Commission’s role in negotiating fisheries management measures on behalf of the EU with third countries also lacks transparency. Industry stakeholders are invited to attend talks as part of the EU delegation, but other stakeholders, such as NGOs, often are prevented from attending. The reasons for this remain unclear despite repeated requests for a justification. Commission negotiators have instead made attempts to improve the flow of information – for example, briefing non-industry stakeholders outside of the EU/Norway talks – but it remains unacceptably difficult for organisations to access these important negotiations or participate in development of the EU’s mandate for these talks. Improving the management, accessibility and transparency of these negotiations must be a critical priority, given that fish remain a public resource.

Conclusion

The reformed CFP has led to improvements in EU fisheries management – including reductions in overfishing and recovery of certain stocks – that have benefited biodiversity, other stocks and fishers. The long-term trends are mostly positive. But what appears to be a reduction in political will since the agreement went into effect has led to under-implementation of some of the specific policies the CFP required across the board, and this shortfall has delayed the potential benefits of the policy.

Failure to meet the key deadlines agreed in EU law in 2013 – not least the deadline to end overfishing by 2020 – represents opportunities not fully grasped to benefit the seas and the communities that depend on them. 

Short-term political expediency appears to have led decision-makers to aim lower than the CFP requires, moulding management measures to existing fishing practices instead of changing them. EU institutions too often treat fisheries policy as disconnected from environmental policies and exempted from sustainability commitments. Decisions made in this fisheries “silo” and full assessments of progress are not always openly communicated, making inconsistencies with other EU policies hard for the public to understand. And the transparency gap gets exacerbated in the context of the EU’s international joint management with other states.

Some serious problems persist that contradict the EU’s stated ambitions. These should be urgently addressed to complete implementation of the CFP before the Commission is required to assess its performance in 2022 and before policymakers consider further reforms. Full implementation of the policy and achievement of the CFP’s objectives can be delivered only if all EU institutions fulfil their roles to the extent required by treaties and the full body of EU fisheries law.

Endnotes

  1. The Pew Charitable Trusts, “Common Fisheries Policy Reform in the European Union,” https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/projects/archived-projects/common-fisheries-policy-reform-in-the-european-union.
  2. European Union, “Regulation (EU) No. 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on the Common Fisheries Policy, Amending Council Regulations (EC) No. 1954/2003 and (EC) No. 1224/2009 and Repealing Council Regulations (EC) No. 2371/2002 and (EC) No. 639/2004 and Council Decision 2004/585/EC,” Official Journal of the European Union L 354, 28.12.2013 (2013): 22-61, http://data.europa.eu/eli/reg/2013/1380/oj.
  3. European Commission, “Commission Decision (EU) 2017/848 of 17 May 2017 Laying Down Criteria and Methodological Standards on Good Environmental Status of Marine Waters and Specifications and Standardised Methods for Monitoring and Assessment, and Repealing Decision 2010/477/EU,” Official Journal of the European Union (2017), http://data.europa.eu/eli/dec/2017/848/oj.
  4. United Nations Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (1995), https://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/fish_stocks_agreement/CONF164_37.htm.
  5. European Commission, “CFP Reform: Maximum Sustainable Yield,” accessed Aug. 28, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/sites/fisheries/files/docs/body/msy_en.pdf.
  6. International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, “Plaice (Pleuronectes Platessa) in Subarea 4 (North Sea) and Subdivision 20 (Skagerrak)” (2019), http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2019/2019/ple.27.420.pdf.
  7. European Commission, “Communication From the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the State of Play of the Common Fisheries Policy and Consultation on the Fishing Opportunities for 2020” (2019), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52019DC0274&from=EN.
  8. European Commission, “Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy” (2009), http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2009:0163:FIN:EN:PDF.
  9. The Pew Charitable Trusts, “EU Fisheries Management Still Not in Line With Scientific Advice Despite 2020 Deadline” (2020), https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2020/09/02/eu-fisheries-management-still-not-in-line-with-scientific-advicedespite-2020-deadline.
  10. Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries, “STECF & Common Fisheries Policy,” European Commission, https://stecf.jrc.ec.europa.eu/index.html.
  11. European Commission, “Communication From the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council Towards More Sustainable Fishing in the EU: State of Play and Orientations for 2021” (2020), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=COM:2020:248:FIN.
  12. The Pew Charitable Trusts, “EU Fisheries Management Still Not in Line With Scientific Advice.”
  13. European Commission, “Communication From the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council Towards More Sustainable Fishing in the EU.”
  14.  Ibid.
  15.  Ibid.
  16.  Ibid.
  17. European Commission, “EU Fleet Maintains High Profits Mainly Thanks to Sustainable Fishing Methods” (2019), https://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/press/eu-fleet-maintains-high-profits-mainly-thanks-sustainable-fishing-methods_en.
  18. The Pew Charitable Trusts, “Fit for Purpose? An Assessment of the Effectiveness of the Baltic Sea Multi-Annual Plan (BSMAP)” (2019), https://www.pewtrusts.org/-/media/assets/2019/09/baltic-map-review-final.pdf.
  19. European Union, “Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,” Official Journal of the European Union C 326 26.10.2012 (2012), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:12012E/TXT&from=EN.
  20. The Pew Charitable Trusts, “EU Fisheries Management Still Not in Line With Scientific Advice.”
  21. The Pew Charitable Trusts, “Analysis of Fisheries Council Agreement on Deep-Sea Fishing Opportunities for 2019 and 2020” (2019), http://www.pewtrusts.org/-/media/assets/2019/analysis_of_fisheries_council_agreement_on_fishing_opportunities_for_deep_sea_ stocks_2019-2020.pdf.
  22. International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, “6.2.3.1 EU Request to ICES to Provide Fmsy Ranges for Selected North Sea and Baltic Sea Stocks” (2016), https://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2015/Special_Requests/EU_FMSY_ranges_for_selected_NS_and_BS_stocks.pdf.
  23. The Pew Charitable Trusts, “Fit for Purpose?”
  24. Ibid.
  25. Ibid.
  26.  Ibid.
  27. G. Carpenter and R. Kleinjans, “Who Gets to Fish? The Allocation of Fishing Opportunities in EU Member States” (New Economics Foundation, 2017), https://neweconomics.org/uploads/files/Carpenter-Kleinjans-Who-gets-to-fish-16.03.pdf.
  28. European Commission, “Discarding and the Landing Obligation,” https://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/cfp/fishing_rules/discards_en.
  29. See Recital 26 of European Union, “Regulation (EU) No. 1380/2013 of the European Parliament,” Official Journal of the European Union L 354, 28.12.2013.
  30. L. Borges, “The Unintended Impact of the European Discard Ban,” ICES Journal of Marine Science fsaa200 (2020), https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsaa200.
  31. The Pew Charitable Trusts, “Fit for Purpose?”
  32. European Fisheries Control Agency, “Compliance Evaluation,” https://www.efca.europa.eu/en/content/compliance-evaluation.
  33. Ibid.
  34. L. Borges, “The Unintended Impact of the European Discard Ban.”
  35. The Pew Charitable Trusts, “Recovering Fish Stocks and Fully Implementing the Landing Obligation: Managing Fishing Mortality to Meet CFP Objectives” (2018), https://www.pewtrusts.org/-/media/assets/2021/03/ngopositionrecoveringfishstocksandfullyimplementingthelandingobligation.pdf.
  36. European Union, “Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008: Establishing a Framework for Community Action in the Field of Marine Environmental Policy (Marine Strategy Framework Directive),” Official Journal of the European Union L 164 25.6.2008 (2008), http://data.europa.eu/eli/dir/2008/56/oj.
  37. European Commission, “A European Green Deal,” https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal_en.
  38. European Commission, “EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030,” https://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/biodiversity/strategy/index_en.htm.
  39. European Union, “Regulation (EU) No. 1380/2013 of the European Parliament,” Official Journal of the European Union L 354, 28.12.2013.
  40. WWF, “Evaluating Europe’s Course to Sustainable Fisheries by 2020,” Dec. 11, 2018, https://www.wwf.eu/?uNewsID=339493.
  41. European Council, Council of the European Union, “2020 Fishing Opportunities in the Atlantic, North and the Mediterranean Seas: Council Secures Agreement,” news release, Dec. 18, 2019, https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2019/12/18/2020-fishing-opportunities-in-the-atlantic-north-and-the-mediterranean-seas-council-secures-agreement/#.
  42. International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, “Cod (Gadus Morhua) in Subdivision 21 (Kattegat)” (2020), http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2020/2020/cod.27.21.pdf.
  43. The Pew Charitable Trusts, “Fit for Purpose?”
  44. Europêche, “EU Fishing Sector Demands Realism and Flexibility in Face of the Imminent Arrival of the ‘Perfect Storm,’” news release, Feb. 21, 2018, http://europeche.chil.me/post/eu-fishing-sector-demands-realism-and-flexibility-in-face-of-the-imminent-arriva-196034.
  45. The Pew Charitable Trusts, “After All-Night Meeting, EU Council Sets Catch Limits Too High,” Nov. 15, 2017, https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2017/11/15/after-all-night-meeting-eu-council-sets-catch-limits-too-high.
  46. R. Froese et al., “Progress Towards Ending Overfishing in the Northeast Atlantic,” Marine Policy (2020), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2020.104282.
  47. Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries, “Monitoring the Performance of the Common Fisheries Policy, (STECFAdhoc-19-01) Version 1.2” (2019), https://stecf.jrc.ec.europa.eu/reports/cfp-monitoring/-/asset_publisher/oz5O/document/id/2484866.
  48. BirdWatch Ireland, “The Sad Story of European Cod,” Dec. 12, 2019, https://birdwatchireland.ie/the-sad-story-of-european-cod/.
  49. Ibid.
  50. European Commission, “AGRIFISH Council 16-17 December 2019 Brussels,” https://ec.europa.eu/commission/commissioners/2019-2024/sinkevicius/announcements/press-statement-agrifish-council-16-17-december-2019-brussels_en.
  51. F. Harvey, “EU Ministers Opt to Continue Overfishing, Despite 2020 Deadline,” The Guardian, Dec. 18, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/18/eu-ministers-opt-to-continue-overfishing-despite-2020-deadline.
  52. Europêche, “Fisheries Council Secures Sustainable Catch Limits for 2020,” news release, Dec. 18, 2019, http://europeche.chil.me/post/fisheries-council-secures-sustainable-catch-limits-for-2020-278327.
  53. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, “Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, done at Aarhus, Denmark on 25 June 1998” (1998), https://www.unece.org/env/pp/treatytext.html.
  54. European Commission, “Commissioner Sinkevičius Announces More Transparency on Its Proposals for Fishing Opportunities” (2020), https://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/press/commissioner-sinkevi%C4%8Dius-announces-more-transparency-its-proposals-fishingopportunities_en.
  55. European Commission, “Deep-Sea Fisheries: Commission Proposes Measures to Conserve Stocks in the North-East Atlantic,” news release, Oct. 22, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/press/deep-sea-fisheries-commission-proposes-measures-conserve-stocks-north-east-atlantic_en.
  56. European Council, Council of the European Union, “Baltic Sea: Council Agreement on 2020 Catch Limits,” news release, Oct. 15, 2019, https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2019/10/15/baltic-sea-council-agreement-on-2020-catch-limits/.
  57. Y. Bendel, “Overfishing in the Darkness” (Transparency International, 2016), https://transparency.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/21-09-2016-Fishing-report-web.pdf.
  58. European Ombudsman, “Decision in Case 640/2019/TE on the Transparency of the Council of the EU’s Decision-Making Process Leading to the Adoption of Annual Regulations Setting Fishing Quotas,” April 29, 2020, https://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/en/decision/en/127388.
  59. G. Carpenter, “Landing the Blame: Overfishing in the Northeast Atlantic 2020” (New Economics Foundation, 2020), https://neweconomics.org/2020/03/landing-the-blame-overfishing-in-the-northeast-atlantic-2020.
  60. European Ombudsman, “Decision in Case 640/2019/TE.”
  61. G. Carpenter and R. Kleinjans, “Landing the Blame: Overfishing in EU Waters 2001-2015” (New Economics Foundation, 2015), https://neweconomics.org/uploads/files/Landing-the-Blame-full-report.pdf.
  62. The Pew Charitable Trusts, “A Path to a New Fisheries Management Agreement Between the EU and the UK,” June 18, 2020, https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/fact-sheets/2020/06/a-path-to-a-new-fisheries-management-agreement-between-theeu-and-the-uk.
  63. The Pew Charitable Trusts, “FAQ: What Is a Regional Fishery Management Organization?” Feb. 23, 2012, https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/fact-sheets/2012/02/23/faq-what-is-a-regional-fishery-management-organization.
  64. The Pew Charitable Trusts, “Will the UK Deliver on Its Post-Brexit Fishing Promises?” Feb. 24, 2020, https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2020/02/24/will-the-uk-deliver-on-its-post-brexit-fishing-promises.
  65. UK Parliament, “Beyond the Common Fisheries Policy: Scrutiny of the Fisheries Bill” (2019), https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvfru/1722/172208.htm.
  66. UK Parliament, “Draft Working Text for a Fisheries Framework Agreement Between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the European Union” (2020), https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_ data/file/886009/DRAFT_Fisheries_Framework_Agreement.pdf.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM CYPRUS ON BANNING HUNTING BIRDS USING GLUE TRAPS

Below is an announcement from the Cyprus Voice for Animals Union of Animal Welfare Associations, by Louise Guillot Mar 17, 2021. Those of who know and love Cyprus, also know that this illegal practise continues in many places, especially near the occupied territories – hence the need to keep the issue in the public domain.

EU top court bans hunting birds using glue traps

Gluing birds to branches to trap other birds is a breach of EU law, the Court of Justice
of the EU ruled today.


Answering a question from the French Council of State — the country’s highest
administrative court — on whether a national derogation allowing gluing birds as
decoys to attract and trap wild birds is compatible with the EU Birds Directive, the
court said it’s not.


The court explained that this hunting method isn’t selective enough and poses a risk of
inadvertently catching other species. This is “a method of capture leading to by-catch
where that by-catch, even in small quantities and for a limited period, is likely to cause
harm other than negligible harm to the non-target species captured,” it said.
The court added that “despite being cleaned, the birds captured sustain irreparable
harm, since limes are capable, by their very nature, of damaging the feathers of any
bird captured,” and pointed out that better solutions “appear to exist.”


The case was brought in 2019 by One Voice and the League for the Protection of Birds
against the French state, arguing glue hunting was “cruel” and harmful to biodiversity.
The practice has been banned in the rest of the EU since 1979, and the court said
France couldn’t justify its derogation on the fact it’s a centuries-old tradition. “The
preservation of traditional activities cannot … constitute an autonomous derogation
from the system of protection established by [the Birds] directive.”
The European Commission opened an infringement procedure against France last
summer over the practice.


CYPRUS VOICE FOR ANIMALS
March 17, 2021

Climate Crisis & Creation Care: Eco-Economic Sustainability, Ecological Integrity and Justice.

Our Editor, Dr Christina Nellist, has instigated and is editing this multi-discipline work, where academics, people of faith and no faith and those working in the public sector or NGOs and Charities, come together to offer perspectives on the most important issues of our time – Climate Change and Care for the Natural World. Expected publication mid-2021.

New studies further the case for cultivated meat over conventional meat in the race to net-zero emissions

By 2030, cultivated meat can be cost-competitive and massively reduce the climate impact of meat production.

WASHINGTON — New studies released today by independent research firm CE Delft show that — compared with conventional beef — meat cultivated directly from cells may cause up to 92% less global warming and 93% less air pollution and use up to 95% less land and 78% less water.

The studies model a future large-scale cultivated meat production facility and show that by 2030, the cost of meat grown from cells, or “cultivated meat,” when manufactured at scale could drop to $5.66 per kg ($2.57 per pound). This production cost will enable cultivated meat to compete with multiple forms of conventional meat or serve as a high-quality ingredient in plant-based meat products.

The life cycle assessment (LCA) and techno-economic assessment (TEA) conducted by CE Delft, with support from The Good Food Institute and GAIA, are the first to utilize data from companies active in the cultivated meat supply chain. Informed by real-world inputs, the studies paint the most complete picture to date of the anticipated environmental impacts and costs of large-scale cultivated meat production.

The LCA analyzes various scenarios, including the adoption of renewable energy by both the conventional and cultivated meat industry should they go all-in on their climate mitigation efforts. In the most optimistic scenario, which factors in ambitious projections of conventional animal agriculture’s achievements in environmental impact improvements, cultivated meat outperforms all forms of conventional meat.

The LCA shows that cultivated meat, when produced using renewable energy, reduces the cumulative environmental impacts of conventional beef by approximately 93%, pork by 53%, and chicken by 29%. In these scenarios, the conventional products are also produced using renewable energy.

Importantly, when production is powered by an average conventional energy mix versus a renewable energy mix, cultivated meat’s carbon footprint rises but still remains significantly lower than conventional beef’s. This key finding shows that renewable energy is the key to unlocking cultivated meat’s huge climate mitigation potential and demonstrates the dramatic gains that mutually reinforcing climate solution strategies can deliver.

Beyond emissions, the LCA also accounts for the impacts of pollutants on human health and shows that cultivated meat causes significantly less harm than conventional meat. Not included in the report are the global human health benefits associated with decoupling meat production from conditions that give rise to zoonotic disease transmission and antibiotic resistance.

Furthermore, with conventional meat using up to 19 times more land than cultivated beef — which doesn’t require crops and pastures to raise and feed livestock — a transition from conventional animal agriculture to cultivated meat production can free up land to restore ecosystems and sequester carbon. While these land-use-change benefits are not accounted for in the LCA, these parallel climate strategies can act as force multipliers in global efforts to reduce and offset carbon emissions.

These analyses provide governments interested in a safer, more secure, and climate-resilient food system with data that can inform the allocation of R&D funding, considered vital to accelerating the development and global scaling of cultivated meat. Read GFI’s blog post to dive deeper into the report results and their significance.

Read GFI’s blog post to dive deeper into the report results and their significance.

CE Delft Senior Researcher Ingrid Odegard: “With this analysis, we show that cultivated meat presents as an achievable low-carbon, cost-competitive agricultural technology that can play a major role in achieving a carbon-neutral food system. This research provides a solid base on which companies can build, improve, and advance in their goal of producing cultivated meat sustainably at scale and at a competitive price point.”

GFI Senior Scientist Elliot Swartz: “As soon as 2030, we expect to see real progress on costs for cultivated meat and massive reductions in emissions and land use brought about by the transition to this method of meat production. This research signals a vote of confidence and serves as a practical roadmap for the industry to address technical and economic bottlenecks, which will further reduce climate impacts and costs. Government investment in R&D and infrastructure will be critical to accelerating the development of cultivated meat and help us achieve global climate goals. Favorable policies and carbon markets can incentivize the restoration of agricultural land for its carbon sequestration and ecosystem services potential, maximizing the climate benefits of cultivated meat.”

GFI Executive Director Bruce Friedrich: “The world will not get to net-zero emissions without addressing food and land, and alternative proteins are a key aspect of how we do that. Decarbonizing the global economy is impossible with the diffuse production process and range of gases involved in conventional animal agriculture. As these new models illustrate, if we can concentrate the environmental impact of meat production in a single, manageable space — and if we power that space with electricity generated from clean energy sources — that’s how the world gets to net-zero emissions.”

GAIA Consultant Hermes Sanctorum: “For GAIA, cultivated meat is primarily a solution for shifting away from animal agriculture and its many harms. Industrial farming has a major impact on the environment and animals. That is why we and GFI commissioned a study to make the comparison between cultivated meat and conventional meat. This study is a worldwide first: it is the first time that a study on cultivated meat has been made in collaboration with cultivated meat companies and with detailed data from these companies.”

Press contacts: 

CE Delft, Han Schouten schouten@ce.nl +31 (0)6- 5189 3057
GFI, Sheila Voss sheilav@gfi.org +1 618-409-3104
GAIA, Hermes Sanctorum transitions@gaia.be 0032 478 55 86 64

Methodology

This life cycle assessment and techno-economic assessment are the first reports to be informed by data contributed by companies involved in the cultivated meat supply chain. Over 15 companies participated, including five cultivated meat manufacturers. The studies used industry data to model how cultivated meat might be produced by the year 2030 and assessed the costs and environmental impacts of a commercial-scale facility that produces 10,000 metric tons of ground cultivated meat product per year. For the purposes of this release, “water” refers to blue water, which includes groundwater from aquifers or reservoirs, not from rainfall, and is what the LCA analyzed. Global warming refers to greenhouse gas emissions, measured in kilograms of carbon dioxide-equivalents.

About the study’s partners and their roles 

The LCA study was commissioned by GFI and GAIA, who connected CE Delft with data partners. CE Delft was independent in carrying out the report, research, and writing. Raw data from the participating companies was not shared with GFI or GAIA. The TEA study was commissioned by GFI.

About The Good Food Institute

The Good Food Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working internationally to make alternative proteins delicious, affordable, and accessible. GFI advances open-access research; mobilizes resources and talent; and empowers partners across the food system to create a sustainable, secure, and just protein supply. GFI is funded entirely by private philanthropic support.

https://gfi.org/press/new-studies-further-the-case-for-cultivated-meat-over-conventional-meat-in-the-race-to-net-zero-emissions/

Greening the Orthodox Parish

This is an excellent initiative by the Greek Orthodox Church in America.

They have also begun to produce materials for Parishes.

We are honoured to have been asked to contribute to these 2-3 minute ‘How To’ videos, which as you can imagine is also a great challenge!

Arctic ice loss forces polar bears to use four times as much energy to survive – study

Other predators such as narwhals are suffering similarly as unique adaptations become less suited

Polar bears
The sea ice on which polar bears hunt has shrunk by 13% each decade since 1979. Photograph: Paulette Sinclair/Alamy

This article is from the Guardian

Wed 24 Feb 2021 13.50 GMT

Polar bears and narwhals are using up to four times as much energy to survive because of major ice loss in the Arctic, according to scientists.

Once perfectly evolved for polar life, apex predators are struggling as their habitats shrink and unique adaptations become less suited to an increasingly ice-free Arctic, researchers say.Greenhouse gas emissions transforming the Arctic into ‘an entirely different climate’Read more

The mammals are physiologically designed to use as little energy as possible. Polar bears are primarily “sit and wait” hunters, adapted to catching seals by breathing holes, and narwhals have evolved to dive very deep for prey without making fast movements. Now, however, they are having to work much harder to stay alive, according to a review article published in Journal of Experimental Biology.

Polar bears feed mainly on the energy-rich blubber of ringed and bearded seals, but this food source is harder to come by. The sea ice on which they hunt has shrunk by 13% every decade since 1979. Studies show that polar bears now swim for an average of three days to find seals, or search for less energy-dense terrestrial food sources, forcing them to travel greater distances.

A bearded seal off the coast of Alaska
A bearded seal off the coast of Alaska. Photograph: Reuters

Land-based resources are unlikely to compensate for the decline in seal feeding opportunities, meaning the bears are significantly more vulnerable to starvation. “A polar bear would need to consume approximately 1.5 caribou, 37 Arctic char, 74 snow geese, 216 snow goose eggs (ie 54 nests with four eggs per clutch) or 3m crowberries to equal the digestible energy available in the blubber of one adult ringed seal,” researchers write in the paper.Advertisementhttps://48dbf96dbfc3a90b21d97f64958b0fc9.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Narwhals are endurance swimmers that can reach depths of 1,500 metres (5,000ft) in search of Greenland halibut, their favourite prey. They need reliable breathing holes, but the ice is changing rapidly and moving in new ways, meaning holes have shifted and in some cases disappeared.

“The Arctic world is so much more unpredictable for these animals now,” said Dr Terrie Williams, a co-author of the report from the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “With a finite amount of oxygen in their muscles and blood, we find that the narwhals budget their speed, depth, and duration of dives to match the capacity of their internal scuba tanks. One miscalculation could result in drowning.”

Narwhals can dive to depths of up to 1,500 metres
Narwhals can dive to depths of up to 1,500 metres. Photograph: David Fleetham/Alamy

The climate crisis is also causing their migration to change, and opening up Arctic regions to industrial activity, which is infringing on narwhal territories. Killer whales, another apex predator, have joined the marine Arctic ecosystem and are known to attack and kill slow-moving narwhals.

The review collates a number of research papers to better understand how the Arctic’s traditional apex predators are likely to decline. “We wanted to kind of summarise what we know about the physiology of those animals … we really saw a lot of similarities between them,” said Dr Anthony Pagano, a co-author from the institute for conservation research at San Diego Zoo Global.

The decline of polar bears and narwhals is likely to have a knock-on effect on other ice-dependent mammals and their prey, leading to “rapid changes in the entire Arctic marine ecosystem”, researchers say. Mammals such as beluga whales, Arctic foxes and musk oxen are likely to be vulnerable to similar changes.

An Arctic blends into its environment in Nunavut, Canada
An Arctic fox blends into its environment in Nunavut, Canada. Photograph: Paul Nicklen/National Geographic/Getty Images

The paper corroborates existing models that predict a global decline in polar bear abundance of between one and two-thirds by the end of the century. “We have to reduce our carbon footprint using every bit of human ingenuity we can muster. If for no other reason than a world without polar bears and narwhals would be a sadder place,” said Williams.Advertisementhttps://48dbf96dbfc3a90b21d97f64958b0fc9.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Prof Klaus Dodds, from the department of geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, who was not involved in the study, said it was an important paper. “As the Arctic continues to burn, melt and thaw, there will continue to be a cascade of shocks and reverberations.

“Iconic species such as the polar bear, seal and whale are vulnerable to changes in sea ice distribution and thickness. As marine ecologies shape-shift, perfectly adapted mammals to a reliably frozen environment will struggle to adapt. The cost of current and future adaption will be high.”

Prof Steve Albon, an honorary research associate at the James Hutton Institute, who was not involved in the research, said: “By calculating the energetic costs of the loss of sea ice to these predators we can foretell the likely consequences for their reproduction and survival long before we have the evidence of their declining numbers.”

CLIMATE CHANGE AS MORAL PRIORITY: THE GREEN PATRIARCH

The University of Massachusetts, Lowell, is offering a webinar titled, “Climate Change as Moral Priority: The Greek Patriarch” featuring Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis, Theological Advisor to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The webinar will be held on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at 6pm (ET). The program will explore the question, “What have we learned about the relationship between religion and climate change, especially in this period of the pandemic?” The lecture will also discuss how the Orthodox Church and its spiritual leader Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, also known as “the Green Patriarch,” offer a unique contribution to addressing one of the most pressing challenges of our time. To register for the webinar visit https://uml.zoom.us/…/register/WN_N-Jo9elURZWS_vOYSpa8RwThe program is presented by the Maria Nousias Zamanakos, Alexandria Zamanakos and Alice Fleury Zamanakos Endowed Lectureship in Hellenic Studies and is sponsored by the Hellenic Studies Program at UMASS Lowell and the History Department.

In the chapel of the Celtic saints with the strange names

This article came to us via a friend in the USA from a friend in Greece!

Orignal article by Mary Adamopoulou

An old warehouse of a few square meters in the chapel of Osia Xeni, next to the station of ISAP Kato Patissia, filled the period of the first quarantine with saints bearing strange names and surrounded by animals and birds!

The chapel of Osia Xeni, next to the station of ISAP Kato Patissia

Afew months ago, while I was facing a serious health problem in my close family environment, a friend, in an attempt to reassure me, told me: “It’s going to be okay. I’ll stop by St. Kevin’s and light a candle.” At first I didn’t pay attention. I thought I was disobeying my agitation. But when the problem was overcome, I calmly recalled our discussion and came back asking for clarification. “Who’s St. Kevin?”

The appointment was given a few days later, on Acharnes Street, next to the kato patissia power station. Just a few metres away, among dozens of barber shops run by migrants, small and larger grocery stores with delicacies from the Arab world and countries in the former eastern bloc and restaurants with dishes from Iran to Russia, a chapel is displayed. Ceramic red, with a triple bell tower and a small courtyard full of flowers that would be more suited to the environment of an island than to the grey and concrete urban fabric.

An improvised sign at the entrance welcomes us to the chapel of Osia Xeni, which is a metochi of Agios Nikolaos Syros. And since he urges us to take all necessary means of protection for the pandemic, he invites us to meet the chapel with the Celtic saints. A chapel that counts only a few months of life as its canonization was completed during the first period of confinement, last spring.

Saint-Patrikios

At first glance nothing seems strange in the chapel. Believers worship and light a candle. The well-known saints adorn the walls. By the time the gaze falls on an opening in the middle of the temple, on the right. “Guardians” of the entrance on either side the Saints Panteleimon and Charalambos. Among them, the inscription “Holy chapel of Celtic saints”.

Just three square meters, chock full of 21 saints, whose names in most of us are more reminiscent of actors of cinema and in no (rather) case saints, and indeed of Orthodox doctrine.

St. Kevin’s, St. Alban’s, St. Bridgend, St. Hilda’s, St. Brendan’s… All of them small, strict in appearance, most with a sympathetic look and several of them surrounded by animals: dolphins, hares, blackbirds.

Saints-Gobnata-and-Brendan

“It is the first place in Athens dedicated to the Celtic Orthodox saints (p.p.: another chapel dedicated to these saints exists in the retreat of St. Porphyri in Melesi Attica) and could not be found a better hostess than Osia Xeni to embrace “foreign” saints” says in “NEA” the vicar, Father Georgios Ganotis, who does not only work in a church with “foreign” saints , but also in a neighborhood full of immigrants from every corner of the planet.

The chapel of the Celtic saints until about a year ago was nothing but a warehouse, in a miserable state, as he describes us, with candles that smelled and no one wanted or dared to pull the curtain covering its entrance. “Today it is a gem that combines beauty with knowledge,” he says proudly.

But who are these Celtic saints? They are saints who lived in the early centuries when Christianity arrived in Britain, Wales, Ireland. They were then lost after the roman Catholic Church and Protestantism prevailed in these areas, when many monasteries were destroyed, while the remains of the saints were even used to make mandre.

St. Kevin’s

St. Kevin, one of Ireland’s most important saints, for example, lived in the 6th century. and came from a family of the royal generation, as we read in the edition “The Celtic saints in the chapel of Osia Xeni” available only from the temple. He lived like a hermit in the Valley of the Two Lakes, near Dublin, was associated with nettles and was particularly well-groomed. In fact, an otter was once said to have brought him the manuscript of the psalms that fell on him in the lake, became friends and fished on his behalf. He is pictured holding a nest of blackbird chicks in his right hand, as he is said to have held their nest in his hand for days, motionless, until the blackbird threads its eggs and feeds the cubs so they can fly.

Saints-Kevin-Melankel

Saint Bridgeid asked Christ to make her ugly so that no one would want to marry her so that she could be insulated. Her wish came true, but in time she regained her natural beauty and reportedly performed a multitude of miracles forming only the spot of the cross. It is also due to the crosses of reeds – popular in Greece – for protection from evil. St. Brendan, although to some he is known as the fictional character of the play “Brendan’s Journey”, was born in the late 5th century BC. in Ireland and in addition to the fact that he founded many monasteries in his homeland, Wales, Scotland and France, he may have done a great sea exploration that led him to the shores of North America, hence he is depicted on a ship in the company of dolphins and other living beings of the sea. Saint Hilda who lived in the 7th century. they consulted kings, princes and bishops of England as they considered her the spiritual mother of the country.

Among them is a well-known saint to all, even today: St. Patrick, the Scottish missionary who taught Christianity in Ireland. In his youth and a prisoner of pirates, he managed to escape and then became a missionary teaching the mystery of the Holy Trinity using as an example the clover which, although composed of three parts, is a plant.

One of the questions that arises is that, since these saints are largely unknown, how did the defendant of the Holy Monastery of Panagia Vryoulon of the Holy Archdiocese of Athens, Gerontissa Philothei, manage to create the 21 hagiographies that adorn the chapel? “It wasn’t easy. I relied on information from the co-rooms and used my imagination. Hagiography is not a copy paste. Many times out of ignorance and fear we proceed to sterile copies so as not to attribute elements that do not match the Orthodox spirit. But if we observe the Byzantine hagiographers, we will find that they have been bold”, explains the abbot, who has been involved in hagiography for the last 22 years and while she had no contact with either painting or hagiography until her acquaintance with her teacher, priest Stamatis Skliris.

Saint-Bridget

From the creation of the drawings to the completion of the project, gerontissa Philothei took about a year and a half and worked with hagiography powders and glue. The difficulties were not lacking, as he tells us, when moisture problems on the roof caused the angels he had painted to fall and had to be repositioned.

The idea for the canonization of the chapel belongs to the philologist Konstantinos Ganotis (father of the vicar), who knew about the Celtic saints through his spiritual father St. Porphyrios. The latter even said that “when the Greeks discover the Celtic saints, the Anglicans will become Orthodox”.

But why did the unknowns even in the ecclesiastical circles of Celtic saints occupy a place in a temple in the heart of Athens? “We are not only interested in making these saints known in the world, but in showing the universal character of Orthodoxy. Many times we have a localistic approach, we believe that our religion concerns the Mediterranean basin and we do not realize that we are part of a larger puzzle. When you discover foreign saints, you discover that the Church is a global affair. Universal. And you understand that the saints are not our handlers and that the Church is not in our pocket,” explains Father Georgios Ganotis, who admits that the reception of these saints was initially restrained by the faithful. “But as time goes by, they worship and are interested in learning about the saints who lived so far from our land. Children come who want to see the animals as almost all these saints had a special relationship with the animals, they were nature lovers. They’re buying the book we’ve published to get more information. They approach the chapel as a part of the temple they already love,” he concludes.

WHEN FAITH MEETS FUR

Fr. Alex Chetsas

I’ll never forget the look on her face: “Father, what’s this about blessing pets this weekend? Will. ..will they be in the church?” “No, not this time,” I replied with my best deadpan. “I don’t think we have enough pews.” My parishioner and I both smiled, she a bit nervously, and on we moved toward our first “St. Modestos Blessing of the Animals Event” at my little Florida parish.
It turned out to be the start of something wonderful In our community, and I’ve kept the concept close to my heart-and in my ministry “playbook”-ever since. The idea for the event came simply enough. A few years ago a clergy friend of mine gave me an animal blessing prayer from St. Modestas, Archbishop of Jerusalem (feast day Dee. 16). He mentioned that he’d been blessing pets during Epiphany house blessings. This sounded smart: people love their pets, and this would be a low-key, personal way to connect with parishioners while visiting homes. At the same time, 1 was on the lookout for a Christmas outreach event, something a little outside the norm that would invite people to take another look at our parish. I’d been hearing for years about Catholic churches blessing animals. After doing a little research, I learned that this was also a long-standing Orthodox practice, connected to more than a few saints of our Orthodox faith.

The idea developed into a parish-wide concept, and it seemed a great opportunity to
engage in this ancient Christian tradition in a broad, modern setting. The event is held outside the church, so there is no confusion about liturgical boundaries or respect for the church building itself. I started testing the waters with parishioners whom I knew had pets; the response was overall very positive. We picked a December date that was close to St. Modestos’s feast but not too close to Christmas-near enough to ride the positive, cheerful coattails of the season, but not so close as to overwhelm our busy parishioners. Into the bulletin, Web site and local papers the announcement went. We enlisted our JOY group to sponsor the event. The children would enjoy a lunch beforehand, learn about St. Modestos and the respect he had for all that God made, and make sure all of the pets and people were well-satisfied with plenty of tasty treats.

My wife, Brandy, animal-lover and PR machine that she is, got on the phone with everyone from the governor’s office to the city animal shelter, to neighboring churches and synagogues, to every free online and traditional newspaper in fifty miles, spreading the word with a sense of hospitality, friendship and community outreach. I talked to our parishioners not only about St. Modestos but also about the real meaning of Christmas, the coming of the Lord, the Light that shines in the darkness, the Healer of all creation. And I challenged them to recall the simplicity of that unforgettable night so long ago-the brilliant-star beaming, over the cave, which nature itself offered up to our Lord for shelter. I described how the ox and the donkey (Isaiah 1:3) looked upon their new-born Master in the chilly darkness, warming Him with their breath. We talked about our unique relationship with God and what it means to be made in His image and likeness. But I also reminded them that everything God made is good-.and how all of Creation rejoices at His coming. That He comes to make everything new. This truly good news is cause for celebration, worthy of thanksgiving and a blessing.

On the big day, two major outreach aspects of the event fell nicely into place. First, our new friends from the county animal shelter joined us as promised. They brought not only irresistible puppies and kittens to adopt, but also handmade Christmas ornaments for sale. So they offered
great information and education while raising some needed funds for their outstanding, ongoing work. Second, as we Hoped, members of the general public joined us as well. This gave our parish an opportunity to be a witness of our faith in a latent, nonthreatening manner. The visitors observed glimpses of our theological and liturgical life, and we got a chance to welcome them, engage them and hopefully show them the hospitality of Abraham.

And then there were the blessings themselves. A parish council member counted, and told me later that 55 “clients” had been blessed. Among them were 41 dogs, 6 cats, 2 birds, 2 rabbits, a turtle, a goat-yes, a goat-and 2 stuffed animals (why not?). The dogs ranged from the tiniest Chihuahua to the greatest Dane I’d ever seen. I had the drool on my hands, shoes and service book to prove it. This was hands-on ministry. It made me feel like building an ark. Each encounter represented a fantastic moment of bonding with parishioners and people I’d never met before. Getting down at eye level with their pets and blessing them somehow connected us. This bond was inexplicable but real. Some pets had ailments, and I heard about these, too, from our parishioners and new friends. They knew that what was important to them was important to me-and most importantly, to our Church.

A young lady who was with us from the county shelter even pulled me aside for twenty minutes about halfway through the blessing. She told me she had a friend who was depressed and thinking about hurting herself. This young lady was worried and deeply nervous about what might happen to her friend. We talked, exchanged numbers and followed up on her concerns. God put us together on this day-somehow-and some good came of this unlikely encounter. It’s amazing what happens when we put ourselves out there.

As for my little JOY helpers, it was really inspiring and satisfying to see our children hard at work. Fresh from their fun session about St. Modestos; they were ready for action. They served the adults hot cocoa and cookies. They constantly ran to and from the parish hall refilling water bowls, gathering more doggy treats and looking for makeshift toys for anxious critters to play with. They were in charge of a unique ministry: they were caring for something; they were having fun at Church; they were taking good care of what God made. Their excitement was contagious.

At the end of the afternoon, as we were cleaning up, there was an unexpected and final blessing of the day. In the eleventh hour, an SUV roared up and screeched to a halt in front of the church. A couple I’d never met emerged, explaining that their beloved Golden Retriever was dying of cancer. He’d had several surgeries, but things weren’t looking good. They told me that they weren’t members of our community, but they had read about the event in the paper and really wanted me to bless their dog. Maybe it would help. Maybe it would put them at ease. They felt they had to do something. We tried to let them know that even though they weren’t “members” of our community, they now belonged to our parish family. After they’d left, more than a few of us were moved. We had all made new friends, and hopefully we had offered something to one another through this unique circumstance.

I share these experiences because they’ve been instructional and revealing to me. I saw my parishioners in a new light, and I was gifted with a host of opportunities to develop new relationships. I saw our children get excited about a hands-on ministry and watched some of my shyest parishioners evangelize without even knowing it. And then there was the greatest and most awesome blessing of the whole day-the holy water of the Agiasmos service enveloping us, refreshing us, renewing us and reminding us that what God made is good. This was my planned “big message of the day,” but I never really had to say the words. No sermon-to the relief of all-was necessary. For lack of a better expression, it was “acted out” by God’s people.

Since that inaugural event in Florida five years ago, I’ve seen this ministry grow and mature. At my current parish in Weston, MA, we now invite a host of animal “helping” agencies, offer microchip clinics and even feature a “doggie buffet,” compliments of a local pet supplier. OCF college students, who are part of a mentoring program within our parish, run the event. They engage our HOPE and JOY families for support. To grow the community outreach aspect, we’ve also begun to invite law enforcement: Cappy and Mighty Mouse, two equine members of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Mounted Unit, are now regular participants and major attractions. Mouse, a miniature horse, is a big draw. And this is not only a thrill for our parish children, but it also tightens the vital, indispensable bonds between our parish and the general community. We’ve even brought on a parishioner who is a professional photographer to capture that perfect Christmas shot of each pet. He accepts a small offering for each print and gives all proceeds to his local animal shelter.

What could you expect if you started a similar ministry in your parish? At the end of a pet blessing day, your priest may end up with fur on his robes. Your parish council members may shake their fist as they “patrol” the church lawn for early Christmas gifts. Some of your fellow parishioners may decide that “Fr. John has finally gone off the deep end,” and your parking lot will need a serious hose down. But that’s okay. It’s worth it. What God made is good, and it’s our duty to proclaim this truth-and act on it with creativity, conviction and great love.

FR.ALEX CHETSAS ISTHE ASSISTANT PRIESTAT ST. DEMETRIOS GREEK ORTHODOX CHLIRCH IN WESTON, MA. HE HAS SERVED PARISHESIN CALIFORNIA AND FLORIDA, AND HE NOW RESIDES IN WAYLAND. MA, WITH HIS WIFE. BRANDY, AND THEIR CHILDREN. PHOEBE AND BRAM.

Going Deeper St. Modestos of Jerusalem (Dec. 16) St. Modestos was born in 292 in Palestine. When he was less than a year old, his parents were put to death for practicing Christianity, and he was brought into the imperial household and raised as a pagan. As a teenager, though, an awakening occurred. He learned of his parents’ martyrdom, and that he had actually been baptized before their execution. A Christian goldsmith began to teach and mentor him, but the man’s jealous sons eventually sold St. Modestos into slavery in Egypt. He remained there seven years before gaining his freedom (he converted his master’s family to Christianity) after returning to Jerusalem. After a pilgrimage to Mt. Sinai, he made his way to a monastery, where he was ordained a priest. He quickly became known for his devotion to the faith, holiness and loving nature. After years of dedicated service, he was selected as Patriarch of Jerusalem. It was during these latter years of his life that his long-time devotion to God’s creation intensified and blossomed. He had a particular affection for animals-he saw animals as sublime and mysterious gifts from God. Often he would bless livestock, praying for their health and productivity and giving thanks for all Creation.

OTHER SAINTS WITH A SPECIAL CONNECTION TO NATURE & ANIMALS: St. Seraphim of Sarov (Jan. 2), shared his bread with birds and wild animals; was often visited by a bear that obeyed his words. St. Blaise/Vlassios of Sebaste (Feb. 11), blessed and healed sick animals by laying his hands on them. St. Mark the Ascetic (Mar. 5) healed a hyena cub and taught it to leave the sheep of the poor in peace. St. Mary of Egypt (April 1 and 5th Sunday of Lent) after her death, a lion guarded her body in the desert and helped St. Zosimas bury her. St. Elijah (July 20) nourished by ravens, which brought him bread and meat in the morning and
evening

“BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS” PRAYER

O Lord Jesus Christ our God, compassionate and all-good, Who fashioned in wisdom both the invisible and the visible creation; Who pour your mercies upon everything that has been made by You; Who, in Your loving providence, provide for all Your creatures, from the first to the last; hear my prayer and drive away and banish every injury and illness from all these cattle (or pets, sheep, horses or other animals), which are being used for the livelihood of your servants [name(s)]. Yes, Lord, look down from Your holy dwelling place and bless all these animals, as you blessed the flocks of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and of all Your faithful servants. Multiply them, grant them health, strength and productivity; render them robust and successful in the various services which they render so that their owners, having derived abundant benefits from them, may engage in all good works which are pleasing to You, and may glorify on earth Your Holy Name, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

SAVING OURSELVES, THE ANIMALS AND NATURE. NEW UN BACKED CHATHAM HOUSE REPORT

I attended the webinar launch of this report earlier this week. It confirms what many of us have been saying for decades.

One vital point that is frequently overlooked is that God did not remove His choice of the original violence-free plant-based diet. It remains as a viable choice for Christians until today.

The dispensation to kill and eat animals was not a command to abandon God’s original choice, but rather, in the words of St Irenaeus and St Athanasius, was a dispensation for those with hardened hearts and part of His plan to bring His errant human creature back to salvation.

This article succinctly informs us of just how harmful the animal-based diet is. As a result, our Church leaders and local parishes ought to encourage informed debate on this important issue.

This article is by Damian Carrington Environment editor@dpcarringtonWed 3 Feb 2021 14.30 GMT, gives a concise summary:

Plant-based diets crucial to saving global wildlife, says report

Vicious circle of cheap but damaging food is biggest destroyer of nature, says UN-backed report

A cow looks out from a tightly packed herd of milking cattle

More than 80% of global farmland is used to raise animals, which provide only 18% of calories eaten. Photograph: Alamy

  • The global food system is the biggest driver of destruction of the natural world, and a shift to predominantly plant-based diets is crucial in halting the damage, according to a report.

Agriculture is the main threat to 86% of the 28,000 species known to be at risk of extinction, the report by the Chatham House thinktank said. Without change, the loss of biodiversity will continue to accelerate and threaten the world’s ability to sustain humanity, it said.

“The root cause is a vicious circle of cheap food, the report said, where low costs drive bigger demand for food and more waste, with more competition then driving costs even lower through more clearing of natural land and use of polluting fertilisers and pesticides.”

The report, supported by the UN environment programme (Unep), focused on three solutions. First is a shift to plant-based diets because cattle, sheep and other livestock have the biggest impact on the environment.

More than 80% of global farmland is used to raise animals, which provide only 18% of calories eaten. Reversing the rising trend of meat consumption removes the pressure to clear new land and further damage wildlife. It also frees up existing land for the second solution, restoring native ecosystems to increase biodiversity.

The availability of land also underpins the third solution, the report said, which is farming in a less intensive and damaging way but accepting lower yields. Organic yields are on average about 75% of those of conventional intensive farming, it said.

“Fixing the global food system would also tackle the climate crisis“, the report said. The food system causes about 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions, with more than half coming from animals. Changes to food production could also tackle the ill health suffered by 3 billion people, who either have too little to eat or are overweight or obese, and which costs trillions of dollars a year in healthcare.

“Politicians are still saying ‘my job is to make food cheaper for you’, no matter how toxic it is from a planetary or human health perspective,” said Prof Tim Benton, at Chatham House. “We must stop arguing that we have to subsidise the food system in the name of the poor and instead deal with the poor by bringing them out of poverty.”

Benton said the impact of the food system on climate and health was becoming widely accepted but that biodiversity was too often seen as a “nice to have”.

Susan Gardner, director of Unep’s ecosystems division, said the current food system was a “double-edged sword” providing cheap food but failing to take into account the hidden costs to our health and to the natural world. “Reforming the way we produce and consume food is an urgent priority,” she said.

Jane Goodall, the renowned conservationist, said the intensive farming of billions of animals seriously damaged the environment and inhumane crowded conditions risked new pandemic diseases crossing into people: “It should be phased out as soon as possible.”

On Tuesday, a landmark review by Prof Sir Partha Dasgupta concluded the world was being put at extreme risk by the failure of economics to take account of the rapid depletion of biodiversity.

The Chatham House report said the world had lost half its natural ecosystems and that the average population size of wild animals had fallen by 68% since 1970. In contrast, farmed animals, mainly cows and pigs, now account for 60% of all mammals by weight, with humans making up 36% and animals just 4%.

In reforming the global food system, “the convergence of global food consumption around predominantly plant-based diets is the most crucial element”, the report said. For example, it said, a switch from beef to beans by the US population would free up fields equivalent to 42% of US cropland for other uses such as rewilding or more nature-friendly farming.

In another example, the report said if the permanent pasture around the world that was once forest was returned to its native state, it would store 72bn tonnes of carbon – roughly equivalent to seven years of global emissions from fossil fuels. Benton said the report was not advocating that all people should become vegan, but should follow healthy diets that are as a result much lower in meat.

The year ahead offers a potentially unique opportunity to redesign the global food system, the Benton said, with major UN summits on biodiversity and climate, as well as the world’s first UN Food Systems Summit and an international Nutrition for Growth summit. The large sums being spent by governments as nations recover from the Covid-19 pandemic also provide opportunities for “policymaking that affords equal priority to public and planetary health”, the report said.

Philip Lymbery, at Compassion in World Farming, said: “The future of farming must be nature-friendly and regenerative, and our diets must become more plant-based, healthy and sustainable. Without ending factory farming, we are in danger of having no future at all.”