Towards a sustainable mobility culture within European Churches


  • Andrea Guraqugi and Anton Benussi, Shkodra, Albania
  • Hemma Opis-Pieber, Graz, Austria
  • Jobst Kraus, Bad Boll, Germany
  • Antonella Visintin, Torino, Italy
  • Robert Buick, Londonderry, Northern Ireland
  • Lars Ove Kvalbein, Bergen, Norway

Regarding the theme of "energy" of our 6th assembly we remark, that the environmental and social impact of all kind of motorised mobility is tremendous – both local and global. We have to note that:

  • Motorised mobility and its impact on environment and justice is a kind of a taboo, also in NGOs and in Churches (perhaps because are stuck very deeply in our car (and plane) oriented society)
  • Motorised mobility causes about 35 % of all CO2 emissions worldwide. Flights are increasing and also CO2 emissions coming from motorised mobility in Europe. One main reason for this is the growing demand for the transport of goods.
  • Motorised traffic has also an impact on health and safety, especially the particulates/pollution coming from the internal combustion engines of cars and trucks. The freedom and the safety especially of children is also extremely restricted.
  • Regarding mobility there is a lack of democracy both in the field of planning and also "on the roads" (private cars have a "right of way"). The strategy of pedestrians, cyclists etc. against this attitude should be to "reclaim the road"
  • We have discussed for more than 15 years the same problems. Everybody knows, what is wrong and what they should do instead. We have to recognize, that we are stuck in a "dead end street". The Churches and their initiatives have to create visions and have to lobby for alternatives fitting into integrity of creation – better than the existing car orientated society.
  • Biomass or other alternatives instead of fossil fuel can not be a solution without reducing motorised traffic as a whole.

We are looking for alternatives in order to save energy and reduce CO2 emissions. Here are our first hopeful experiences from regional projects:

  • Using bicycles for church staff members' business trips, with the incentive of significantly higher expenses than are paid for using a car – as is done in Bergen, Norway. Please send us photographs from church people on the bike.
  • Having an increasing number of participants joining during Lent the Autofasten campaign (Car fasting in Graz, Austria)
  • In efficient car driving (30 % less fuel consumption besides certain efficient car technologies)
  • To change the modal split of all big events like the German Kirchentag ( into more environmental friendly mobility. Regarding this, our ECEN assembly and the meetings of the enabling team should be a "forerunner".

Our proposals are:

  • Churches have to understand mobility as an important theme of lifestyle and have therefore to work themselves on a new model of mobility and have to promote environmental friendly means of transport as acceptable and trendy. Churches should be also a part of the "Slow Up" Movement.
  • Our campaigns must be more creative and stimulating imagination and action (one car in one hour driving 20 km/h is heating up the local climate as much as 210 bulbs 100 watt each)
  • Besides saving energy we need to promote effective usage in the field of mobility
  • Churches should adopt as standard to compensate flights, when they are not avoidable (,,,
  • Joining the car free day campaign
  • Supporting and joining car sharing and car pooling initiatives (church parishes existing all over the country could promote a new lifestyle sharing facilities and goods(see Acts 2, 44) – church buildings as a "house of commons" with collective usage)
  • Looking for different solutions of collective transport especially in the rural area
  • Reducing the food miles by purchasing regional nutrition in church institutions
  • An European wide campaign regarding "Car fasting" during lent
  • As a big consumer Churches should call the car companies for a downsized eco car
  • Churches should lobby for an European wide speed limit (e.g.120 – 80 - 30).

A radical change in the field of mobility is urgent. We need visions of a society where the president and the bishop are cycling getting the rolls for breakfast

Our activities for the future:

  • European Campaign during Lent 2007 supported by different churches. Key issue: collecting – or exchange - of car keys instead of money during the service. We need an English description and appealing for European money by the CEC
  • Exchange of stories, pictures and figures/data and best practise examples within the coalition (within the group and also via ECEN Web site)
  • To notice: Environmental day of the UN on the 5th of June (Church event in Norway under the theme "the melting ice hot topic")

Mobility Coalition Flämslätt 2006