Tread Lightly 2019 – responding to the climate emergency

Councillor Waseem Zaffar speaking at Tread Lightly

Birmingham faith communities explore ways to address the climate emergency at ‘Tread Lightly’ event.

Over 40 people from Birmingham’s diverse faith communities gathered at the Sri Ram Mandir Hindu Temple in Sparkbrook on Sunday 17 November for the fourth ‘Tread Lightly’ interfaith event. The afternoon was coordinated by Footsteps, a project of Birmingham Council of Faiths, and included a talk by Councillor Waseem Zaffar, a ‘community environment fair’ and discussions about what people would like to see change in their communities. 

The event was held in the wake of the declaration of a ‘Climate Emergency’ in June 2019 and the recent announcement of the membership of the Councils’ ‘Route to Zero’ (R20) task force, which will bring recommendations to the full council meeting in Spring 2020. The event highlights the continuing concern felt by many people of faith about the environment and the need to care for the planet.

In his talk (pictured above) Councillor Waseem said that the Council’s Climate Emergency Declaration was partly a result of pressure from the faith communities. He spoke about the dangerously high levels of air pollution in the city and the need to switch to more cycling, walking and public transport, highlighting the fact that there are over 250 thousand car journeys of less than a mile every day in Birmingham.

Other speakers were from Clifton Road Mosque, St John’s Church in Sparkbrook, SEWA UK and the Brum Breathes projects. Participants also had the opportunity to explore different issues at the community environment fair, with discussions ranging from working with schools and young people work to interfaith climate walks.

In their Climate Emergency Declaration, Birmingham City Council have committed to ‘taking communities with them’. The event gave the chance for people from the local community to put their concerns to the council task force, as well as highlight their hopes for a ‘Greener Birmingham’.

A purple wall dotted with ideas from participants.
The ‘purple wall’ we created with the ‘next steps’ each of us was intending to take, our ‘green dreams’ about for the future and, in blue, our messages to the City Council Climate Emergency taskforce.

Suggestions from participants included cutting meat from school dinners, more community growing spaces, better routes along canals for bikes and wheelchairs, cheaper and better public transport and enabling car free school runs.

One participant described the event as “a unique opportunity and I came away inspired and changed.”

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