Jesuits in the Asia Pacific region have initiated a new carbon-offset scheme to reduce the impact of air travel on the environment, with the Australian Province one of the first to sign on.
At the recent Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP) assembly in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, Jesuit Provincials approved Flights for Forests, which will require participants to commit $5 for each flight taken.
‘Air travel is a major contributor to global warming, and since our collaboration in the Jesuit mission requires many of us to fly frequently, we seek to mitigate the damage our trips cause to the environment’, said Fr Mark Raper SJ, JCAP President.
Fr Pedro Walpole SJ is the project leader, while Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC) will manage the fund in conjunction with the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific. Contributions to the scheme will go to several programs for the regeneration of forests in the Philippines, Cambodia and Indonesia. (Pictured: Volunteers in Battambang Parish in Cambodia growing trees to be planted in deforested areas - one of the projects to be supported by the scheme).
Fr Raper says Flights for Forests is not limited to Jesuits and collaborators, or even to people in the Asia Pacific region.
‘It is a voluntary program that is open to anyone who wishes to join in our effort to reconcile with creation’, he says.
The Australian Province Office has joined Jesuits in Indonesia and Micronesia in being among the first to sign on. The initiative will be promoted to other Jesuit works.
‘It’s an important initiative to extend our care for the environment that has both symbolic and practical value’, says Fr Curtin.
Details of the new initiative, and how to sign on, will be available soon on www.sjapc.net.
JCAP meeting on ecology
Meanwhile, close to 40 Jesuits, religious and lay companions from across the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific gathered in Kompong Cham, Cambodia, from 11 to 15 July for the first JCAP meeting on ecology.
The meeting was aimed at building a common understanding and shared approach to environment issues among the various Provinces.
The meeting was held on the Mekong River, which traverses six countries and on which more than 60 million people depend for their food, water, transport and livelihoods. The location highlighted the importance of environmental stewardship and reconciliation as an issue of justice.
The JCAP Ecology Task Force met in February this year, and drafted a document titled, ‘Our Environmental Way of Proceeding’. The document provides a starting point for the Society’s efforts in ecological issues.
Participants at the meeting were asked to provide comments and suggestions to the draft and based on that feedback, a revised document should be available in the next few months.
The JCAP website jcap.essc.org.ph contains a great deal of information on the project as well as specific information on the three themes:
Theme 1, Jesuit Communities, institutes and Lifestyle, jcap.essc.org.ph/?cat=3
Theme 2, Youth Education for Sustainability, jcap.essc.org.ph/?cat=6
Theme 3, Governance of Natural Resources, jcap.essc.org.ph/?cat=12
Report from Fr Sacha Bermudez-Goldman SJ