Shrinking the Footprint
Exeter Diocesan Position Statement on Energy
According to the majority of international scientists, there is now more than a 90% probability that greenhouse gases such as CO2 emitted from human activity is causing dangerous changes to the planet’s climate. The current impacts of this include loss of the world’s ice caps and glaciers, extreme and unpredictable weather patterns, prolonged droughts and rising sea levels.
People across the globe therefore need both to adapt to these rapidly changing conditions and to mitigate behaviour in order to prevent the situation worsening. It is clear that poorer nations and communities are already experiencing a serious loss of life through a mix of drought, disease, famine and flooding.
As a response to dangerous climate change, and as a part of its call to preserve God’s creation and promote justice for all, the Diocese is committed to cutting its carbon emissions by 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 in line with the Church of England’s national Shrinking the Footprint (StF) campaign.
This has been endorsed by three Exeter Diocesan Synods, the most recent of which (October 2009) agreed that:
“…The Diocese, PCCs, Governing bodies of VA/VC schools, and all church members (i) take steps to reduce consumption of energy derived from fossil fuels; (ii) purchase their electricity from any supplier which provides a Green Tariff…(iii) invest in renewable energy sources…”
The aspirations expressed in this motion have subsequently been incorporated into a 10 year strategy and summary. These include a number of activities for the Diocese and its Mission Communities under five inter-related themes: Land and Property; Procurement of Supplies; Transport and Travel; Christian Lifestyle; and Theology and Worship.
The overall intention in each of these areas of ministry and work is to promote energy savings (e.g. insulation, avoiding waste); to encourage energy efficiencies (e.g. through better technologies for heating and lighting); and to develop appropriate renewable sources of energy through micro-generation on church land and buildings. It is envisaged that an active approach to all three will bring about significant carbon savings over a period of time.
A few examples of these policy imperatives being acted out include a new ‘Green Benchmarking’ scheme and energy surveys of churches and halls, reducing unnecessary printing and sharing travel journeys, purchasing local food for church events and switching to a green electricity/gas supplier (the Diocese has a special deal with Ecotricity).
In addition, there is the ongoing development of renewable energy schemes across the Diocese:
- a church heated by a wood-burning boiler
- ten parsonages with solar PV systems installed
- a further ten churches producing solar electricity
- an air-source heated vicarage
- an exploration of wind energy on Diocesan glebeland
- discussions on managing church-owned woodland for biomass production
- piloting of solar thermal and ground-source heating projects
- a desk top study of the long-term possibility of an Anaerobic Digester (AD) on Diocesan glebe land
If the StF campaign is to be successful, it will be necessary to proceed simultaneously across a number of energy fronts. The overall aim is to reduce the Diocesan CO2 footprint by enhanced carbon auditing and management.
The rationale for this is theological – to sustain the ecology of the Earth for future generations before God; and its implementation is practical – through local energy projects and lifestyle changes. Economically, in the short term it may require extra expenditure but in the long term using energy more effectively and generating from more reliable sources is highly likely to produce a financial benefit and will be advantageous against future carbon-proofing.
Together these initiatives will make a significant different to the legacy we leave for our children’s children and especially to the world’s most vulnerable communities and countries affected by global warming.
Martyn Goss, Council for Church and Society