Our first diocesan carbon emissions report reveals that churches have managed to reduce their net carbon emissions by 11% since 2019. Data gathered from the Articles of Enquiry suggests switching to LED lights (55% of churches), reducing overall heating hours (53% of churches) and reducing heating temperatures (44% of churches) are having a meaningful impact on reducing overall emissions.
This is a testament to the commitment of parishes to improving energy efficiency, and reflects the impact of the recent energy and cost-of-living crisis.
The report also reveals that travel habits have significantly changed since the pandemic, with travel in all reportable areas falling substantially – down 58% for staff working at Church House.
Overall, there is still an enormous amount of work to do, and particularly we need to support our churches and schools to access the necessary funding they need to make challenging and transformative changes to how they heat their buildings. While emissions for schools went up this year, investment in schemes such as new LED lighting directly resulted in a 13.7% decrease in emissions from electricity.
Bishop Olivia, Chair of the Environment Task Group and member of the national Church of England Environment Working Group, commented:
"We're doing all of this together, we've put our shoulder to the flywheel and it's beginning to turn and pick up momentum. But we must do more and we must do it faster. Because this challenge is enormous and is becoming daily more urgent. We also have a general election coming up, and we need to make sure that as Christians across the diocese, we are all asking the candidates what their approach is to these existential issues."
In the coming months, pilot schemes will get underway and further national funding is being released to support the whole Church of England work towards net zero carbon. For schools, a new initiative has been announced which involves the establishment of a National Framework to help schools reduce carbon emissions, save money by improving their energy efficiency, and switch to cheaper, more reliable, renewable energy sources. Funding will initially focus on analysing the option of replacing inefficient, polluting fossil-fuel heating systems, which will also deliver cost savings over the long run.
Churches are also being invited to become ‘demonstrator’ projects, with funding allocated for delivery of ‘quick-wins’ such as LEDs and draught-proofing, starting in 2024.
And it is vital to remember that net zero is but one part of the work of caring for creation. Since the diocese began its Environment Action Programme in 2019, Eco Church registrations have increased from 9% to over 25%, and those awarded have gone up from 1% to nearly 10%. Many parishes are embracing the challenges before them in a way that meets local needs and contexts.
Notes for editors
- Find out more about our work on Environment Action, or view our environmental action insight dashboard to see our progress.
- Find out how a small, rural church, St James the Greater, Eastbury, has become the 21st church in the diocese to reach Silver Eco Church status.
- Read the annual environmental update to Diocesan Synod
- To find out more, or request a media interview, contact Steven Buckley on 07824 906 839 or Rebekah Sharrock on 07880 716 761