It becomes ever clearer that climate change is the greatest challenge that we and future generations face. It’s our sacred duty to protect the natural world we’ve so generously been given, as well as our neighbours around the world who will be first and worst affected. Without swift decisive action the consequences of climate change will be devastating.
Archbishop Justin Welby
In February 2020, the General Synod of the Church of England recognised that the global climate emergency is a crisis for God’s creation, and a fundamental injustice. They passed a motion calling on all parts of the Church of England to act swiftly to decarbonise and to aim to have net zero carbon emission by 2030.
While this is very challenging, it is an important prophetic ambition, which every church will need to respond to.
Where can you start?
Calculating your church emissions
To take responsibility for our carbon emission it is important to know what your carbon footprint is and start to track how it changes from year to year. There are two useful tools for churches to be able to do this:
- The Energy Footprint Tool - This is part of the Church of England online Parish Returns System. Clergy and Church Treasurers complete this each year with information about the energy use of the church, using the electricity and gas/oil bills. The tool calculates your churches’ carbon emissions from energy use and gives an energy rating.
- 360Carbon - This church carbon calculator allows you to explore the greenhouse gas emissions from all your church activities – energy use, travel , waste, food served by the church, as well as emissions from procurement and amenities. Piloted in the Diocese of Leeds this tool is for ecumenical use and was developed by Eco and Climate Stewards.
Carbon emissions from church buildings
Practical Path to net zero. This short guide has been developed by the Church of England using learning from energy audits from churches from around the country, including recent Green Journey audits for over 60 churches in the Diocese of Leeds.
The Diocese of Leeds Environment Policy passed by Diocesan Synod in March 2019, commits the Diocese to work towards being carbon neutral by 2050. This target date will need to be reviewed following the call from General Synod.
An annual report of the diocesan carbon emissions is submitted to the Diocesan Board each year. Read the 2019 Carbon Emissions Report here.
A cross departmental team is being brought together to form a Zero Carbon Working Group to scope out what the diocese would need to do to be carbon neutral by 2030. Having recently received a Bronze Eco Diocese award, the Diocese is well placed to step up to this challenge with some carbon reduction initiatives is already in place, such as the Green Journey Church Energy package and the DAC sustainability principles.
The diocese has quite a lot of information about where our carbon emission are coming from, for example church energy use, clergy housing and our schools. The group will be gathering more data and exploring what projects we need to put in place to reduce emissions and how we could offset the rest.
The Diocesan Environment Group visit the Veolia Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility, Leeds