The declaration, read out by Revd Dr Fiona Haworth, Associate Priest at St Peter Mancroft and project lead for the Gaia Exhibition, read:
“Here at St Peter Mancroft, we are committed to taking action on Climate Change. We acknowledge that Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and the greatest threat to our well-being, globally and locally. Climate Change is already driving conflict, poverty and migration. We have seen over the summer the devastating impact if extreme weather events in flooding and wildfires around the globe.
“At St Peter Mancroft, we declare a climate emergency and commit to educating ourselves about the actions we can take as individuals, families, and communities; and to working with people of goodwill, of all faiths and none, for a sustainable and viable future for ourselves, our children, and for our planet home.
“We will tell the truth about the climate emergency, and the impact of human activity on global heating. We will call on others to do the same.
“We will take action by doing all we can as individuals and a community to lessen our impact on the planet and to safeguard the planet’s resources. We will engage with governments and corporations encouraging them to take the necessary action to protect and preserve the earth.
“We will seek justice. The climate emergency has arisen through deeply systemic injustice. We will listen to the voices of those already suffering, and we will actively seek ways to work for the good of all.”
MP Clive Lewis and the Lord Mayor were present and made statements in the shadow of Luke Jerram’s enormous 6m in diameter globe that dominates the church’s interior and hangs, suspended above the Chancel, so that visitors can wander underneath it and experience an new perspective on our fragile planet.
The declaration comes at the start of a month’s worth of events, exhibitions and workshops around the theme of climate change and the environment. School visits and other activities in partnership with the Norwich Science Festival will also encourage children to engage with our planet. There are also opportunities for visitors to book to climb the 63-steps to the ‘Infinity Ringing Chamber’ – home of the world’s first peal in 1715 – to experience Gaia from above.
Speaking at the launch event, The Lord Mayor said that the Gaia art installation helped him to see himself “in proportion to the rest of the world” and that Gaia, named after the Mother of All in Greek Mythology hung in the church “like a mother patiently waiting”. The Lord Mayor ended his speech saying that “we much each take personal action on climate change”.
Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, spoke of the “magnificent art installation” which reminded him of the interconnectedness of humanity. Clive Lewis is one of the co-sponsors on the Climate Bill and stated that he was “pleased that the church was taking a stand on the climate emergency”.
He said, “Gaia enables us to see the scale of the huge challenge but also the beauty of what’s at stake. There is so much to be done, and we need public support, anger and determination to encourage MPs and businesses to move faster. Climate migration is already taking place.”
Designed by Luke Jerram, Gaia allows us to see our planet, floating in three dimensions. We can share the experience of astronauts in a feeling of awe for our planet home. This viewpoint provides a new appreciation of the inter-dependence of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the natural environment.
A specially made surround-sound composition by BAFTA award winning Composer Dan Jones is played alongside the sculpture.
The Gaia model has already been displayed in the UK and around the world, including Liverpool Cathedral, Salisbury Cathedral, the Natural History Museum, Hong Kong and Taipei. In the lead-up to COP 26, the hosting of Gaia will enable the church and the city to explore the wide-ranging implications of the climate crisis. Gaia will be in St Peter Mancroft until 31st October 2021.