Thinking Anglicans

Church launches consultation on plans to get to net zero carbon

Press release from the Church of England

Church launches consultation on plans to get to net zero carbon in just nine years as new Synod prepares to meet
28/10/2021

The Church of England is to consult dioceses, cathedrals, national institutions, parishes, schools, and other interested parties on a proposed routemap to achieve net zero carbon by 2030, as papers are published for November’s inaugural meeting of a new General Synod.

The draft routemap, published among today’s General Synod papers, suggests how all parts of the Church of England can make changes together to achieve the ambitious target set by General Synod in 2020 to be net zero carbon 20 years ahead of the Government’s targets.

It includes recommendations for building maintenance, heating and the availability of specialist advice for each setting alongside how the central Church and dioceses can offer support.

The newly elected Synod will be formally inaugurated on Tuesday November 16 at the start of a two-day meeting.

Items on the agenda include a debate on the wealth gap in the UK and discussions about Church matters including the recent review of governance and the development of a new vision and strategy for the Church of England in the 2020s and beyond.

That includes an ambitious goal to double the number of children and young people in churches.

The recent elections attracted a record number of candidates (with 956 standing for the Houses of Clergy and Laity combined) and returned a majority of new members – 60 per cent of those elected.

The meeting at Church House Westminster will be the first full group pf sessions held in person since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Making possible Synod’s ‘ambitious target’ of net-zero by 2030

The draft net zero carbon routemap has been written by a sub-committee of the Church of England’s Environmental Working Group, chaired by the Bishop of Selby, Dr John Thomson, with advice from across the Church and charities.

He said: “God’s creation is in crisis, and there is an urgent call to address this at every level of our global community, to protect creation, including the world’s poorest communities who are being affected the most and soonest by climate change.

“Synod has set an ambitious target, and this represents the next step in building consensus around a workable plan for the whole Church to meet that aim and to make the target possible.

“We recognise this will be challenging and there will be a financial cost, however many adaptations can also be made simply and quickly, such as switching to a green energy provider, filling gaps in windows, and changing lightbulbs, all of which can help to reduce energy costs.

“I encourage individuals and communities to engage with these consultation proposals and to think at every level what can be done to be part of the change we need to live out in response to our Christian calling to safeguard and care for all of God’s creation.”

Global leaders will be meeting in Glasgow to discuss how the world can tackle the climate emergency following increasingly frequent extreme weather events, the IPCC’s “code red for humanity” report, and depleting biodiversity.

The Government has committed to a target of net zero carbon by 2050, with an interim target of a 78 per cent reduction, set in April 2021.

Becky Clark, Director of Churches and Cathedrals for the Archbishops’ Council, said: “This consultation seeks to gather a wide range of views to build consensus on how the Church of England can both reduce its carbon footprint and also model care for creation.

“Buildings are at the heart of this and all involved are aware of the significant challenges, not least to parishes and cathedrals struggling to recover from the pandemic.

“However there are already amazing examples of churches that are at the vanguard of low carbon adaptations, demonstrating that even the highest listed buildings can make vital changes and be part of tackling the climate emergency.”

Anyone can respond to the consultation online before the closing date of 28 February 2022, with responses particularly requested from Dioceses and Cathedrals.

There will be a series of information sessions, open to all, in the autumn of 2021 to discuss the suggestions, and answer questions arising during the consultation period.

More information:

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peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

The list of interested parties in the quoted article’s first sentence the CofE administrative staff are talking to looks like they are all structures (administrative and physical) of the CofE. So if anyone sees this comment, will they please reply back with what a CofE national institution is? Of course, the CofE needs to talk to everyone and get their input, but institutions are notorious for “consulting on planning on” taking action. 2030 is an ambitious target, but I wonder what CofE is calling “net zero”? Three decades ago. I volunteered at a small TEC church for a time, and… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

I don’t think retrofits from coal are common, but elderly, creaking gas boilers maintained by dark arts known only to retired church wardens and unlucky curates are widespread. I think many UK churches were unheated historically and central heating was a late addition. I suspect that those buildings where heat pumps are likely to prove unworkable due to the cost of insulation and/or heritage concerns will find themselves with a choice of bottled biogas or hydrogen pumped through the existing gas network, or resorting to standard electric heating with all the ruinous cost that entails.

Becky Clark
Becky Clark
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 month ago

Hi Peter, thanks for your question and your comment. The National Church Institutions are seven charities which between them make up the governance and administrative functions, plus the Archbishops’ Palaces. They include the Church Commissioners and Archbishops’ Council. This consultation is particularly aimed at them, and at dioceses, because we want to understand what support structures are needed so that the burden and cost of reaching net zero is not placed entirely on parishes and so we can understand what additional resource it is reasonable to put in place to help this. The definition of what we mean by net… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Becky Clark
1 month ago

Ms. Clark,
Thank you for your thorough reply.

Stanley Monkhouse
1 month ago

I hope that people will pay heed to the science. This is not a bad place to start:
https://www.nationalworld.com/news/uk-news/this-map-by-climate-scientists-shows-which-parts-of-the-country-could-be-underwater-in-the-next-decade-3275961
You will see that the fens and marshes of the Solway, Lancashire, Somerset, Yorkshire, Sussex, Essex. and of course eastern England could be inundated within a decade. Now put that into the global context. The temptation to indulge in a spot of Anglican virtue-signalling that produces nothing other than a transient glow of conscience-salving is to be resisted. 

As I’ve said before, Ms Thunberg is right but too late. It was too late a century ago.

I recommend Bill McGuire’s novel “Skyseed”. 

rural liberal
rural liberal
1 month ago

As a rural dweller I’m massively concerned on one hand (while being fully signed up to the climate change requirements) by the acceleration of pledges like this from large bodies, whether the church or corporate.

The targets can only be met by a measure of off-setting, and plantation, which means that land prices are about to go through the roof and land use is going to change dramatically. That has implications for food security, farming, small rural communities, and a whole new generation of absentee landlords hoovering up anything that comes up for sale.

Becky Clark
Becky Clark
Reply to  rural liberal
1 month ago

Please reply to the consultation to say this. We’re aware that offsetting in particular is not a simple topic (there’s a bit on it in the consultation document which basically says more work is needed to find the right solution) and that the Church is trying to model what good practice looks like in a fast-moving space. Views like yours will help us to shape the direction we take with it.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  rural liberal
1 month ago

As someone said earlier, it depends on your definition of net zero. Personally I don’t think a country or organisation is ‘net zero’ if it is only achieved by offsetting elsewhere. I think it risks being the equivalent of our recycling which is shipped off overseas to be “recycled” but in practice is often dumped.

rural liberal
rural liberal
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

totally agree, but without offsetting the national aspirations for net zero in the sorts of timelines indicated are nonsense. If the CofE can get to net zero without offsetting by 2030 then firstly I’d be astonished, and secondly I can probably sell you a bridge.

The story of the next decade in the UK (not because of this particular proposal but overall) is going to be about land conflict I reckon – do feel free to bookmark and we can revisit in 2031.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  rural liberal
1 month ago

I don’t disagree but it person A can’t farm a certain piece of land because person B is using it for a carbon store, person A will just go and clear woodland elsewhere. Everyone gets what they want: person A gets their farmland; person B gets their carbon store. It all looks good – but there is no net increase of carbon storage. Offsetting is often just a parlour trick.
I hope that the Church of England doesn’t rely on it.

Last edited 1 month ago by Kate
peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Kate
1 month ago

Amen!
At least in the USA, offsetting looks like a shell game.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  rural liberal
1 month ago

Without contradicting anything in your post, land prices detached from their agricultural value 25 years ago, since when the trend has been ever upward. The advice given to aspirant farmers, “arrange to get conceived in a landowner’s bed”, has seldom been more true.

Martin Sewell
Martin Sewell
1 month ago

Forgive a touch of cynicism, but when we can’t even get enough of our Deanery representatives motivated to engage in electing members to General Synod online, they may be hard to motivate for ambitious financial and practical projects.

Froghole
Froghole
29 days ago

This consultation needs to be read in the context of this announcement: https://www.churchofengland.org/media-and-news/news-releases/statement-church-commissioners-about-its-net-zero-carbon-target-date. Note these comments, about the 2030 target: “This target was set before Synod set its 2030 net zero target for the Church, excluding the investment portfolios of the National Investing Bodies, in February 2020.” Also: “The Commissioners this week announced its goal to reduce the carbon intensity of its investment portfolio by 25% by 2025.” The consultation states: “A large part of the answer [to the question of funding the 2030 targets] will be through local fundraising, as the Church has always done.” No commitments are given… Read more »

Bernard Silverman
Bernard Silverman
28 days ago

The consultation is very clear and honest that it doesn’t aim directly to address the carbon footprint of individual parishioners, though obviously the hope is to influence them in other ways. But there is an elephant in the room, and that is the impact of travelling to large gathered churches. I used to live in Bristol and I knew two such…one evangelical and one liberal catholic. I lived near the evangelical church and in those days Sunday mornings were a nightmare with “Chelsea tractors” parked all over the place. I did have some discussion with the church and they explained… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
27 days ago

St Paul’s Burton is ahead of the game here. A huge, gloomy Anglocatholic shrine, beautiful glass and furnishings (Bodley et al) of which I used to be the Vicar. The antediluvian heating system in the oft-flooded basement hasn’t worked for aeons and in winter it’s colder inside than out. I used to thank winter mass-goers for coming in out of the warmth. So the wardens are vindicated in their policy of telling people to wear more clothes. Furthermore, the gloom isn’t really touched by the electric lighting so quite often candles do the trick. I don’t suppose churches were heated… Read more »

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