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/ 14 February 2020

Church of England sets 2030 Net Zero carbon target

Image: The coast of Southern Africa

The Church of England’s General Synod has set new targets for all parts of the church to work to become ‘net zero carbon’ by 2030.

At its February 2020 meeting, members voted in favour of a revised date encouraging all parts of the Church of England to take action and ramp-up efforts to reduce the emissions which cause climate change.

A motion approved today called for urgent steps to examine requirements to reach the new target, and draw up an action plan.

Meanwhile, the Church of England has announced a bespoke footprinting tool for parishes to calculate the carbon footprint of their churches and halls, as part of their annual returns.  This tool is expected to be available from March 2020, for churches to enter their figures from 2019.

Churches in the Diocese of London will migrate to the new tool from our existing reporting system for churches – which has been running since 2007, and has collected and reported on 14 years’ data and progress so far.  From this we know that our churches have already made savings of 19.5% in their energy use and 21.7% in their carbon emissions. We owe a huge debt of thanks to every church and staff member and volunteer who has taken part in this valuable work, which has helped development of the new national tool.

The motion also follows the launch of the Church of England’s first ever green Lent campaign (#LiveLent) for 2020, featuring 40 days of prayers and actions to encourage care for God’s Creation.

London Diocese is also focussing on the effects of climate change on our partner dioceses in Africa. The Diocese aims to raise funds for vehicles to transport emergency aid in all four dioceses in Angola and Mozambique.

Following the General Synod debate, The Bishop of Salisbury, Nick Holtam, the Church of England’s lead bishop for the Environment said:

“Synod has set an ambitious target for the whole Church of England to respond to the urgency of the Climate Crisis.

“To reach Synod’s target of 2030 we will each need to hear this as an urgent call to action, but I am encouraged by the statement of intent this makes across the Church, and wider society about our determination to tackle Climate Change, and safeguard God’s creation.

“This is a social justice issue, which affects the world’s poorest soonest and most severely, and if the Church is to hold others to account, we have to get our own house in order.

“There is no serious doubt that climate change is happening, and that people are causing it, so it is very encouraging that Synod is grappling with the most urgent issues of our time.”

The final motion approved was as follows:

That this Synod, recognising that the global climate emergency is a crisis for God’s creation, and a fundamental injustice, and following the call of the Anglican Communion in ACC Resolutions A17.05 and A17.06;

(a) call upon all parts of the Church of England, including parishes, BMOs [Bishop Mission Orders], education institutions, dioceses, cathedrals, and the NCIs [National Church Institutions], to work to achieve year-on-year reductions in emissions and urgently examine what would be required to reach net zero emissions by 2030 in order that a plan of action can be drawn up to achieve that target;

(b) request reports on progress from the Environment Working Group and the NCI’s every three years beginning in 2022 and;

(c) call on each Diocesan Synod, and cathedral Chapter, to address progress toward net zero emissions every three years.

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