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What we do: Shrinking the Footprint

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Shrinking the Footprint is the Church of England’s national campaign to reduce the environmental impact, and especially the energy use and carbon footprint, of every church, congregation and church member.

The Diocese of London adopted Shrinking the Footprint in 2006. In 2009, the Church of England established its long term plan, Church and Earth – which the Diocese of London has also adopted.

Within Shrinking the Footprint

  • From the Bishop of London gives an introduction to Shrinking the Footprint from Bishop Richard.
  • Care for Creation describes the effects of climate change and other environmental impacts. As Christians, who believe God made the world, we are convinced of our duty to care for God’s creation.
  • Churches and People explains how to take practical actions to help protect the environment, both within your church community and in your own life.
  • An Interconnected World shows how we should care for each other – especially those affected by climate change and environmental disaster, whether in the UK or overseas.

The Five Marks of Mission

The Five Marks of Mission were established by the worldwide Anglican Communion. Care for the environment is mandated by the Fifth Mark of Mission, ‘striving to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth’. It also entails aspects of all the others:

  • The Good News of the Kingdom includes the redemption of ‘all things’ (Col 1:20).
  • The teaching of new believers should include communicating the need to care for God’s Creation.
  • Human need includes the needs of the many people caught up every day in the effects of environmental degradation.
  • Unjust structures include the promotion of consumerism, the dominance of economic growth at any price, the accumulation of disproportionate resources by a few.

The Environmental Challenge

The Diocese has been taking its responsibilities towards the environment seriously since at least the 1990s. In 2008, Brian Cuthbertson was appointed the Diocese’s first Head of Environmental Challenge, tasked to develop a strategy to reduce the environmental footprint of the Diocese and churches.

With the Shrinking the Footprint Steering Group, we have engaged with people across the whole Diocese, and with other stakeholders, in implementing the strategy and pursuing our objectives.

Capital Vision 2020

The Diocese’s seven year vision statement gives eight ways in which the Diocese has reflected on the times we live in, and sought to respond, including:

  • In a universal city, we have learned that we are part of creation – instead of adding to human burdens on creation, we must participate in God’s plan to redeem it.

See Capital Vision 2020 Reasons to Celebrate postcard.

Diocesan Synod

Diocesan Synod receives reports on the environment periodically. Since 2009, these have included reports on:

  • The Environmental Challenge and climate change
  • Outcomes from UN climate change negotiations
  • Possible expansion of Heathrow Airport
  • The commitment of Diocesan Schools to the Environmental Challenge
  • Social and cultural change.

See the last two reports:

Diocesan Environmental Policy

The Diocese’s policy for the environment was adopted by Diocesan Synod in 2010. The policy states that care for God’s creation is fundamental to the Christian gospel, and sets out strategic ambitions for the Diocese, clergy and congregations, and church schools – with the spiritual and theological principles which underpin them.

Diocesan Environmental Policy

Shrinking the Footprint themes


The Church of England aims to reduce its energy use and carbon footprint by 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. We must start by putting our own house in order – planning and managing reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for which the Church in the Diocese is directly responsible.

Route 2050 is the Diocese’s long-term plan to reduce the carbon footprint of its buildings and property by these amounts at least – including St Paul’s Cathedral, our 480 churches, all our church schools and houses.


The Diocese of London began by aiming for cuts of 20.12% in our carbon emissions by 2012, compared to 2005.

From 2005 to 2011, churches in the Diocese saved 21.7% of their energy use, reducing their carbon footprint by 14.9%.

However, by 2012, progress since 2005 had fallen back to savings of 10.5% in energy and just 2.4% in carbon.  Our 2012 target was therefore not met.  This may reflect the unusual weather in 2012, and also special activities in churches around the Olympic Games.  Parishes are being offered carefully considered advice to enable them to return to the downward curve from 2014 on.  Consumption and emissions also peaked in 2009 due to the weather that year, but progress was resumed very quickly after that.  View an analysis from 2005-2010 Annual Returns, in this article, ‘Brighter picture of church energy use’.

At the same time, the diocesan office at 36 Causton Street has exceeded our targets and achieved net carbon neutrality for fuel and power from 2014.  See London Diocesan House slashes carbon footprint.

Read more about our environmental work so far.

The environment and the calendar

Throughout the year, there is a range of occasions and traditions, within and beyond the Church, by which we celebrate God’s creation and encourage each other to take care of it. Let’s all take part.

The environment around the year

Whose future?

Climate change and other dangerous environmental changes are already happening. They will become increasingly severe and threatening, every year and every day we neglect to deal with them with firmness and perseverence.

At a national Shrinking the Footprint meeting on the environment in Lambeth Palace in 2009, a former government minister, the Rt Hon Joan Ruddock MP, said:

“We used to think that climate change was a problem for our grandchildren, then we found out it was a problem for our children, now we realise it is a problem for us.”

We want the voice of children and young people to be heard through our deliberations and reflected in our actions concerning the environment, especially climate change. That is why we accord such significance to our 150 church schools, and all their pupils and students. It is their future.

Christians believe the future is also in God’s hands, and we are ultimately answerable to God. Church and Earth, and our Diocesan Environmental Policy, contain reflections on how the Church of England and Diocese of London regard our responsibility towards God’s creation.

To find out more

Contact Brian Cuthbertson, Head of Environment and Sustainability.

External links


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More in this section

Capital Vision 2020

Capital Vision 2020: Confident, Compassionate and Creative

We share a vision of a Church for London that is Christ-centred and outward looking.

Strategic programmes

People from the Engine Room at Hale Village in Tottenham

London constantly changes and is home to large development and regeneration projects. We must be responsive to these changes and re-evaluate how we deploy our valuable resources.

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People from all works of life contribute their time and effort in the ministry of the Church of England.

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Our presence in the community

We are present in every community through our network of people, parishes and other organisations.

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Our global links

Clergy procession into the Consecration of Bishop Carlos Matsinhe

In today’s interconnected world loving your neighbour starts at home but extends throughout the world.

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