Bishop of Exeter Highlights Churches’ Action on Climate Change in House of Lords Maiden Speech
The Bishop of Exeter has highlighted some of the changes parish churches are making to tackle climate change in his maiden speech in the House of Lords on 18 November.
The Right Reverend Robert Atwell, who is the Church of England’s lead bishop on Rural Affairs, was speaking during a debate on Cop26 and the challenges of implementing climate change measures.
He said “I am conscious of the immensity and urgency of the task confronting us.
Drawing on the Biblical characters of Joseph, who advised on a famine in Egypt, and Noah who lived through a worldwide flood, he said “Today’s prophets are the scientists and environmentalists who present us with stark choices that demand action.
“The Church of England is responding to their warnings.”
Bishop Robert said the Diocese of Exeter hoped to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and would be employing a Net Zero officer to assist churches, schools and the diocese central services team with carbon reduction measures.
He said a number of churches in Devon had already signed-up to the A Rocha charity’s Eco Church scheme.
“Our churches, situated in the heart of our communities, are ideally placed to spot opportunities like installing solar panels on under-used land, planting trees and better insulating a village hall or improving recycling facilities.”
Bishop Robert also spoke about the impact of rising sea levels on Exeter’s twinned diocese of Melanesia in the Pacific, where some islands are already mostly submerged or virtually uninhabitable.
“It is small, developing countries like Melanesia who have a relatively low carbon footprint but are being asked to pay a heavy price for the rest of the world’s wastefulness.”
Bishop Robert concluded by calling on the UK Government to “Seize the opportunity for international leadership” over climate change.