Fracking: For whom, at what cost? Public lecture by John Ashton

7.30pm, Thursday 8 October 2015.

David Hume Tower (Lecture Theatre A), George Square, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9LX.

To attend please reserve your free space here.

Former UK climate envoy John Ashton discusses fracking – how it pits communities against aggressive corporations, the new activism this has created and what this all means for climate change and democratic engagement.

The prospect of fracking for shale gas (and other unconventional forms of extraction) at an industrial scale looms over much of the UK. It is pitting communities against aggressive corporate and financial interests that have bet on its success, as well as their political backers. It threatens to deepen already serious national divisions and is putting local authorities in an impossible position. Our democratic systems are cracking under the strain.

In response a new movement is coming together, in a new kind of activism. Led by local communities, it is rallying people from many walks of life to take a stand against fracking and build a path to our low carbon future. It is forging new citizen networks across the UK, and linking hands with similar networks around the world.

Independent speaker and former UK climate envoy John Ashton is part of this new activism and has recently been involved in the struggle to keep fracking out of Lancashire.

Drawing on his experiences in politics and diplomacy he will explain why he sees the resistance to fracking as critical, both for the response to climate change and for political renewal in the UK, as a basis for discussion about Scotland’s voice in the world.

John Ashton CBE trained and worked briefly as a physicist, then spent 30 years as a British diplomat. From 2006-12 he was the Special Representative for Climate Change for three successive UK foreign secretaries. He cofounded think tank E3G and is a member of the advisory board of Post Crash Economics.

Our chair will be Sally Foster-Fulton, Convener of the Church and Society Council of The Church of Scotland and Ambassador for the ACT Climate Alliance.


For more information about our work on unconventional gas please see our fracking campaign web-page.

The talk is hosted by Friends of the Earth Scotland and the Ancestral Time project at the University of Edinburgh School of Divinity.

The Onomatophore of the Anthropocene by Bronislaw Szerszynski; Thurs., 27 Nov at 6pm

You are cordially invited to a special evening performance and dialogue with Bronislaw Szerszynski (Department of Sociology, Lancaster University) this Thursday, Nov 27 at 6pm in the Martin Hall, “The Onomatophore of the Anthropocene: Commission on Planetary Ages Decision CC87966424/49″:
Earth scientists have proposed that the Earth may be entering a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, in which the human species is the main geological force. In this performance for voice and animated graphics we will hear the declaration of an official decision from an imagined body which has the legal power to determine the names of the ages of all planetary bodies or ‘worlds’ across the galaxy. The decision considers the claim from Homo sapiens that the new geological age of the Earth should be named after their species.  It places this claim in the context of what is known about the evolution of worlds and what it means to be decreed the onomatophore or ‘name-bearer’ of a planetary age, and concludes with a dramatic rewriting of the future evolution of the Earth.  

Seating is limited, so we recommend that you obtain a free ticket through event brite at this link.

Lecture and Book Launch on 1 April, by Michael Northcott

A Political Theology of Climate Change

Why the UN is failing the climate challenge, and what we can do about it…

Please join us for the public launch of Professor Michael Northcott’s latest book A Political Theology of Climate Change. The lecture will be held at University of Edinburgh, Appleton Tower, Lecture Theatre 3 on Tuesday, 1 April 2014 from 17:10 to 18:30.

Eventbrite - “The UN is failing the climate challenge, what can we do about it?”

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the only international treaty relating to reducing greenhouse gas emissions but it is not working. This is because national greenhouse gas emissions is the wrong target. Emissions are not the driving force of climate change but fossil fuel extraction. Once fossil fuels are extracted from sovereign territories they will be marketed and burned. But sovereign nations will not give up rights to license fossil fuel extraction because for the last one hundred years they were the dominant source of national wealth. Hence the current UK government’s  determination to extract shale gas, and methane from coal beds, despite dangers to the environment. In this lecture Michael Northcott argues that exemplary action by individuals, communities and nations – or what the Christian tradition calls political messianism – is capable of resolving the problem. Hence the efforts of climate activists and religious groups to make the social case for disinvesting in fossil fuel extraction. In a global market economy this is the only collective action solution to reducing the risk of dangerous climate change. National emissions targets, and carbon emissions trading, will not.

About our speaker: Michael Northcott is Professor of Ethics in the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh. He has been visiting professor in universities in North America, Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia. He has written 10 books and 70 academic papers in the areas of ecological, economic and social ethics. His latest book, A Political Theology of Climate Change, is published by SPCK in March 2014.

This lecture has been made possible by joint funding from the AARC / ESRC.

Public Lecture on 6 Mar, 17:00-18:30 by Prof. Sigurd Bergmann, “The Legacy of Trinitarian Cosmology in the Anthropocene”

We’re pleased to announce the second public lecture hosted by the Ancestral Time project  by Sigurd Bergmann (Professor of Religious Studies at Norwegian University of Science and Technology): “The Legacy of Trinitarian Cosmology in the Anthropocene: Transcontextualising late antiquity theology for late modernity.” The lecture will be held in the Martin Hall at New College (1 Mound Place, EH1 2LX) on Thursday 6 Mar, from 17:00-18:30.

Eventbrite - Sigurd Bergmann, "The Legacy of Trinitarian Cosmology in the Anthropocene"

If our perception and concept of nature changes, there are knock-on affects for our conceptions of the image of God and our expressions of belief. Conversely, it is becoming increasingly evident that climate change changes our ways of conceiving religion, and this insight pushes us to ask what change religion can make to climatic and environmental change. Theologically formulated in the frame of contextual theology: if God is the Creator of all between heaven and earth and the Spirit is the giver of life and the world to come, where does the Trinitarian Spirit take place in global and environmental change today? What can we learn from Cappadocian theologian Gregory of Nazianzus in this regard?

Eco-Congregation Annual Gathering

Our project partner, Eco-Congregation Scotland, has just announced their annual gathering for Saturday 29 March, from 10am-3:15pm at St. Aloysius College, Glasgow. Project members Jeremy Kidwell and Alice Hague will be presenting a workshop on the AT project at the annual gathering and John Ashton will be featured as their keynote speaker. For more information and registration details, see the Eco-Congregation website.

Public Lecture, “Earthmasters: Playing God with the Climate”

Spraying sulphur compounds into the upper atmosphere to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the planet? Transforming the chemistry of the world’s oceans so they soak up more carbon? These ideas sound like science fiction but technologies to ‘geoengineer’ the planet are being developed now. In this lecture Clive Hamilton will describe the technologies and their risks, and comment on the coalition of forces now backing climate engineering as a response to global warming. He argues that the momentum to embark on geoengineering will become irresistible as the planet warms because emission cuts will come too late.

Location: Lecture Theatre 4, Appleton Tower

Time: 1700 Thursday 19 September 2013

The event is free (request tickets via

About the speaker:

Clive Hamilton is Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Charles Sturt University, in Canberra. He is currently an academic visitor at University College London and has previously held visiting positions at the University of Oxford and Yale University. He is a member of the Australian government’s Climate Change Authority. Clive Hamilton founded The Australia Institute, a progressive think tank, in 1993 and was Director until 2008. One of Australia’s leading thinkers, he has been writing about climate change for 15 years. He is bestselling author of books including Requiem for a Species: why we resist the truth about climate change (2010), in which he considers the psychological and cultural dimensions of climate change denial, and Scorcher: the dirty politics of climate change (2007) an investigation of the power of energy industry lobbyists on the Australia political process. In this lecture he will talk about his latest book, Earthmasters, published earlier this year by Yale University Press.