Costa Rica and the Importance of Renewable Energy around the World

The importance of renewable energy has had a persistent presence on social media and in the news in the past few years, accompanied by ominous but important warnings of the consequences of continuing fossil fuel reliance. For me personally, it is something that has been a key focus in the past few months, through promoting CAFOD’s current Power to Be campaign and having recently returned from Costa Rica, one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world.

The edge of the Arenal Lake

The edge of the Arenal Lake in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. The lake was created by the construction of a hydroelectric dam, which provides 12% of the country’s electricity.

My name is Emily and I began volunteering with the CAFOD Liverpool Office earlier this year as a campaigns volunteer during the final year of my history degree at the University of Liverpool. I decided to volunteer because of the more general reasons; wanting to make a more direct contribution to the local community and raising awareness of the bigger global issues through campaigning, but more specifically I was particularly interested in how organisations like CAFOD interact with both governments and communities around the world. Through my dissertation research into the way in which the US government prioritised its aid and the impact this had on the lives of ordinary Salvadoran citizens, the importance of the work of organisations like CAFOD to people in the poorest parts of the world became inescapably obvious and was one of the main reasons that I decided to volunteer with CAFOD in particular.

 

I recently spent several weeks travelling through Central America and in Costa Rica more specifically. One of the main things I noticed was that everywhere I went in Costa Rica, even in the most remote places, there were constant reminders of the country’s environmental outlook and renewable energy targets. These included everything from the little things, like signs on every single toilet detailing what not to flush and eco-

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One of the several art installations made from recycled materials in San Jose, Costa Rica.

friendly shower systems, to the more obvious, such as the solar panels on most buildings across the county. In 2015, Costa Rica broke the record for the most days without using fossil fuels to generate power, reaching 75 consecutive days at the beginning of the year. In 2016 it managed to use 98% clean energy for its total power consumption throughout the year and the government has claimed that the country hopes to be carbon neutral by 2021. This is a substantial achievement and a definite victory for the environment, made even more impressive when compared with countries such as the USA, which only managed to use 15% renewable energy in 2016. The benefits of these environmental policies are also clear to see; the air is noticeably cleaner than I’ve ever experienced before and signs of climate change aren’t nearly as obvious as they are elsewhere.

 

Costa Rica provides an excellent example of the environmental benefits of focusing on renewable energy, whilst CAFOD’s current Power to Be campaign highlights the other side; the transformation of people’s lives that is possible through improving access to renewable energy in the world’s poorest places. Nearly one in six people don’t have access to electricity, yet renewable energy resources are sufficient enough to potentially supply the world’s energy demands. It is estimated that wider energy access would improve literacy rates, education and generally improve the quality of life for an incredibly large proportion of people. Given that connecting to energy grids fuelled by fossil fuels is so expensive in many poorer countries, increasing access to renewable energy would not only be better for the environment, but would make a significant impact on the lives of nearly a billion people.

 

The focus on renewable energy is also present at home in the UK, a big part of CAFOD’s LiveSimply award, which encourages communities to show how they have been living sustainably with creation, as well as living simply and solidarity with people in poverty. By encouraging communities to live sustainably with creation, CAFOD encourages the

Montezuma Beach

Montezuma Beach, Costa Rica. A beautiful example of how the government’s commitment to clean energy helps to preserve the natural environment.

use of small cleaner energy resources, such as solar panels, among other initiatives such as recycling and reducing their carbon footprint. The centrality of renewable energy to a variety of CAFOD projects, both globally as well as at home, together with the commitment of governments in Costa Rica and 47 other developing countries that have committed to becoming 100% reliant on renewable energy, demonstrates that total reliance on renewable, cleaner energy is becoming a much more realistic goal.

Get involved with CAFOD’s campaigns

Written by Emily McIndoe, CAFOD Liverpool volunteer

Come and hear Fr Peter Hughes

CAFOD Liverpool will be proud to welcome Father Peter Hughes, an Irish priest who has spent the last three decades living and working with poor communities in Peru, when he visits Wigan on 8 July 2017 to share his experiences of the impact of climate change on local communities.

The event, which is being co-hosted by the aid agency CAFOD and the Liverpool Justice and Peace Commission, will be held at St Joseph’s Parish Centre in Wrightington, Wigan on Saturday 8 July and begins at 9.30am. It will hopefully be attended by local West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper.

fr peter liverpool

Father Peter Hughes was born in County Mayo, Ireland, but having lived in Peru has become an expert in the conditions in South America. He is touring the UK with his lecture ‘Listening to the cry of the earth, and the cry of the poor’, which is a response to Pope Francis’ call for people to care more for the earth and each other.

Father Peter works with bishops across Latin America to support indigenous communities living in the Amazon rain forest, and is an adviser to the Instituto Bartolome de las Casas and CELAM, the collegial council of Latin American bishops.  He recently made a presentation to the United Nations in New York.

CAFOD representative, Sarah Croft, said: “We are privileged and inspired to hear first-hand how our sisters and brothers in Latin America are responding to the Pope’s call to listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. We have our part to play in the UK too.

“That’s why people in Wigan are adding their voices to CAFOD’s Power to be campaign – calling for World Bank support to enable the poorest communities around the world to have access to local, renewable energy to tackle poverty without harming the earth we share.”

The event is being held as a part of the Climate Coalition’s Speak Up Week of Action, which encourages CAFOD supporters to meet up with their MPs to discuss climate change.

There will also be an opportunity to hear about CAFOD’s latest campaign, Power to be.  One in six people around the world are still live without electricity. As local, renewable energy is usually the cheapest, fastest and most efficient solution to bring power to the poorest communities, CAFOD is calling on Melanie Robinson, the UK’s representative at the World Bank, to focus UK spending on renewable energy that will allow children to reach their potential.

To find out more about the event or to attend, please contact Colette at CAFOD Liverpool by calling 0151 228 4028 or by emailing Liverpool@cafod.org.uk

The talk will be followed by a shared lunch, so please bring something to share.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

 

Connect with CAFOD’s work online this Harvest Fast Day

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Nicanora in Bolivia

Nikki Evans, Programme Officer for Bolivia, joined us for a Harvest Fast Day session. Now, volunteers in the Diocese of Liverpool have the chance to hear about Bolivia from their own home!

On 7th October you are invited to join CAFOD online for your chance to hear from Nikki Evans, Programme Officer for Bolivia. You can find out about CAFOD’s work in Bolivia and ask any questions you might have about our projects.

Joining an online talk is easy. Simply choose from the lunchtime and evening talks and register using your email address. Continue reading

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Harvest Fast Day is on Friday, October 7th and this year CAFOD is focusing on the poorest nation in South America,  Bolivia, in communities where over 60% of people are in real poverty.  At the Harvest Fast Day briefings we can show you how the Catholic community is making a lasting difference in the world around us.  We warmly invite you and your parish community to join us and hear how you can get involved this Harvest time!

Come and find out more so you can get involved!  All are welcome to our Harvest Briefings this month throughout the diocese:

Thursday 15 September: CAFOD Harvest Fast Day briefing 7pm – 9.00pm (refreshments from 6.45pm) St James’ Social Centre, St James’ Rd, Orrell, Wigan WN5 7AA (with Nikki Evans, CAFOD’s Programme Officer for Bolivia),

Saturday 17 September: CAFOD Liverpool Harvest Fast Day briefing 10am – 2.30pm at St Sebastian’s Church and Parish Centre Lockerby Rd Liverpool L7 0LR (refreshments from 10.00 am for 10.30am start) (with Bernadette McIntosh CAFOD’s Volunteer Support Officer).  There will be the very popular session too on using the prepared short talk for speaking at Mass which makes so much of a difference to Fast Days.  There’ll be a chance to meet other parish volunteers and ourselves at CAFOD Liverpool too!  Please bring something to share for lunch!

What to do

Three things please!

  1.  Please contact us on 0151 228 4028 or liverpool@cafod.org.uk to ask any questions and to let us know you are coming.
  2. If you know of anyone who is interested in helping CAFOD in your parish, please do invite them along. 
  3. Please print out the poster and display at church and/or ask if the news can be included in your parish newsletter. 

We do value your on-going support. It makes a real difference to the lives of countless people overseas.

Thank you!

Who is my neighbour? The Lampedusa Cross helps us find out

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Archbishop McMahon blesses the Liverpool Lampedusa Cross

Ged Edwards from CAFOD Liverpool went recently to the Isle of Man and writes about some of his experiences there in his work for CAFOD.

Pope Francis has asked us during the Year of Mercy to Welcome the Stranger.  The Lampedusa Cross is having a big impact on parishes and schools wanting to understand the lives of people fleeing war, persecution and the impacts of climate change.

The Cross was blessed by Archbishop McMahon, and it has since visited parishes and schools across the Archdiocese.  Here is an update!

Welcoming the Stranger was the theme of the Justice and Peace Commission Assembly and the perfect setting for the 30-minute liturgy called The Lampedusa Cross Pilgrimage. People were able to appreciate more the terrible suffering of many through simple telling stories, like Amina’s who is living in a displaced people’s camp in Darfur:

“I was sleeping when I heard our village being attacked. I didn’t know who was shooting at us or why, their faces were covered. First they came on camels and horses, then they came in heavy vehicles, and then they came on foot. There was so much screaming, people running, and fire everywhere. I was so afraid I just ran. I didn’t even put my shoes on.” Continue reading