“Reducing the causes of climate change is essential to the life of faith. It is a way to love our neighbour and to steward the gift of creation.” – Archbishop Justin Welby.
General Synod agreed a motion in February to work towards ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2030 in all parts of the Church. Clearly we want to do all we can to limit the life-changing/threatening impact of climate change on us all; and especially on the poorest people around the world, future generations, and other creatures. 2030 was an ambitious and complex target, even before the huge and varied new challenges caused by Covid-19. Yet as we aim to safeguard creation, to love God and our neighbours, it is a goal to be approached with positive and urgent commitment. Much work has been happening at national and diocesan levels to define terms and scope, develop working groups, plans and resources etc, and decision making is ongoing. In the meantime, there are many really useful and achievable things that we can all do now (if not already!)
- Complete the Energy Footprint Tool – a new and simple tool to be completed through the online Parish Returns system – by 30th September. This is a vital first step to help churches benchmark current CO2 emissions, and thus measure requirements and progress towards net zero. By adding information from 2019 bills for your church (and hall) to pre-populated data, you receive energy efficiency ratings based on size and attendance, tips to make carbon savings, and annual progress updates. Guidance notes for building size / person hours (if not pre-populated) are here. If you don’t usually do parish returns but would like to help, please liaise with your PCC.
- Apply for subsidised Energy Audits are currently available to identify, quantify and prioritise tangible and specific opportunities to reduce energy use, costs and carbon emissions in church buildings. See here for more on what, why, how, how much, etc! Again, apply by 30th September.
- Read ‘The Practical Path To Net Zero Carbon For Our Churches’ – a very concise and helpful new document from the Church of England (April 2020) with suggestions broken down into quick & easy first actions, moving through to ‘What Next’ possibilities. Whilst the first two tools are specifically for Anglican churches, this ‘Practical Path’ is relevant for all churches or faith communities, and indeed much is useful thinking for all buildings!
- Switch your church to a renewable electricity supplier – a very quick and easy win for us all (regardless of current heating source)! As well as being 100% carbon neutral, this Parish Buying system allows the bulk buying power of the Church to obtain competitive prices.
- Commit to individual personal changes in these simple but impactful 10 Pledges (developed by Luci Isaacson, my counterpart in Truro diocese, and one of the workshop leaders at TBGE). Encourage church leaders, members, friends and family to commit; and lead by example! Poster (jpg) here or sign up online here. (And as Luci pointed out in our DEO national conference last week, many green energy suppliers (Pledge 1) give £50 to both switcher and referring friend; if all church members who switched and/or referred pooled all those £50’s, these would quickly pool into a significant contribution to a less daunting cost of transition to a renewable heating system for the church…)
- Join the free online EcoChurch conference on Sat 10th October, 10am-4pm (you can book for particular sessions, so no need to come all day if that’s difficult). Sessions from senior staff at A Rocha on EcoChurch (what, why, how etc), the Church of England Environment team, Climate Stewards, and others. Also from the host church in St Albans diocese – an eco-church itself, very active in Living Churchyard biodiversity and local carbon reduction initiatives. EcoChurch is a brilliant initiative of the Christian environmental charity, A Rocha. Its free online survey and supporting resources are designed to equip churches to express care for God’s world in our worship and teaching; look after buildings and land; engage with our local communities and in global campaigns; and act in congregations’ personal lifestyles. The simple self-assessment tool leads to bronze, silver and gold awards: celebrating positive achievements, and providing springboard and direction for ongoing actions. The website contains excellent resources..
Many actions we can and must make are free or cheap – simple changes to our church or home buildings, how we eat or travel, tend land, planting insect-friendly flowers, switching energy suppliers, prayer and worship! But of course, some changes may have significant costs. Here are some brilliant resources via the Church of England’s Environment team which may help:
- Church of England funding guide, with a section on environmental projects : https://www.parishresources.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Charitable-Grants-for-Churches-Jul-2020.pdf
- For rural churches and schools, it’s also worth looking at the Rural Community Energy Fund: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/rural-community-energy-fund
- For solar, it’s good to be aware of the Smart Export Guarantee Scheme, which has partly replaced the Feed in Tariff : https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/environmental-programmes/smart-export-guarantee-seg/generators
Wider Environmental Resources
For wider environment resources – on worship, biodiversity crisis, local and international organisations, further reading – please see our Environment page.
Please Share What You’re Doing!
Please do share your initiatives, events, positive stories, discoveries of new resources, etc – either contact Chris Keppie, Diocesan Environment Officer or the Diocese Communications Team; or directly on the diocese Community facebook group, or the EcoChurchSW facebook group. There are also inspiring stories of churches around the country on the Church of England’s environment site here. We need to keep encouraging and supporting each other…