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/ 17 December 2020

Energy and carbon from London churches hit record low

Churches in the Diocese of London have been demonstrating their love for God and care for his Creation by taking huge strides in cutting the energy use and carbon emissions, which would otherwise contribute to dangerous climate change.

2019 figures for energy usage have revealed greatly reduced emissions. This is associated with a range of efficiencies and improvements by parishes, in particular the increasingly wide rollout of low energy LED lighting and solar panels.

Net Zero Challenge

Even at the height of the pandemic, churches have been showing how we must look even beyond the awful challenges of the present to reducing our ongoing impact on Creation and on God’s people.

In 2020, the Diocese of London, in common with the whole Church of England (and many other organisations), set itself the very challenging aim of achieving net zero carbon by 2030.

Energy Footprinting Tool

Figures for energy use in churches and church halls in 2019 have been collected through the new national Energy Footprinting Tool (EFT), part of online Annual Parish Returns. The Diocese of London transitioned to EFT from our own bespoke Shrinking the Footprint annual returns.

53% of our churches have engaged with EFT; 41% supplied complete figures. These have now been analysed and adjusted to allow for changes in baseline and methodologies.

A warm thank you to every church, incumbent and church officer who contributed to this marvellous and inspiring response.

Record breaking results

The results in London are indeed exciting:

  • 19.2% savings in annual energy use, 20.9% net of renewable energy.
  • 27.1% savings in carbon dioxide (CO2e) emissions, 29.2% net of renewable energy.

2019 was far and away our best year so far! 2018 figure showed savings of 19.5% energy and 21.7% CO2e compared to our base year of 2005. 2019 has far outstripped that achievement.

News to encourage us

Here is a beam of light, as we near the end of this dispiriting year, to encourage us to persevere! Our times are in God’s hands. At the same time, and for that reason, every parish and congregation and every person has a part to play in this effort. The results show that what we all do can make a tangible difference – from how we use our buildings to how efficiently they are repaired and maintained.

The new EFT also introduced a simple new benchmarking system, with grades from A++ (the best) down to G.

  • In London, comparing CO2e with building size, 6% scored A or better, 33% landed with B-D, 62% were at E-G
  • Comparing CO2e with numbers attending church and church events, 17% were at A or better, 14% at B-D, 67% scored E, F or G.

These are respectable results: the grades were deliberately set at very tough performance levels (to reflect the seriousness of our challenge). So there is much further to go, but we’ve made great progress already.  With God’s help that can done!

To learn more

For the Diocese’s landing page on the environment and Caring for God’s Creation, see Environment and Sustainability.

Caring for God’s Creation is a leading part of the Diocese’s wider ‘Compassionate Communities’ strategy. See Reflections by the Bishop of Kensington on the Theology of Compassionate Communities.


About Brian Cuthbertson

Brian is the Head of Environment and Sustainability at the Diocese of London.

Read more from Brian Cuthbertson

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