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/ 26 February 2019

Joint Dioceses’ Bid for Climate Change Action Gains Massive Approval from General Synod

The Church of England’s General Synod voted overwhelmingly on 25 February 2019 to approve a joint motion from the Dioceses of London and Truro to step up the Church’s environmental programme, in response to the escalating threat of Climate Change.

The decision committed the church to:

  • prepare a plan to ‘for the promotion, co-ordination and rapid acceleration’ of the Church’s Environmental Programme, ‘with particular attention to’ cutting its energy use and CO2 emissions;
  • develop a system to measure and report churches’ energy and CO2 annually, tracking progress towards the Church’s long-term target of 80% cuts by 2050;
  • call on every diocese to put in place an environmental programme overseen by a designated member of the bishop’s staff team;
  • ‘promote communication and peer-review’ between individual dioceses, encouraging best practice in environmental policy and action;
  • report progress to General Synod at least every three years.

The motion was warmly supported by the Church’s national Environmental Working Group.

Synod was assured that the relatively modest resources need to support these actions centrally would be made available.

The motion was moved by Enid Barron, one of the Diocese of London’s Synod representatives, telling Synod:

“The church can be a very effective ambassador for action on climate change. When we meet with our brothers and sisters from the Lambeth Conference next year, we need to be able to say, ‘we’ve heard your pain and we’re doing all that we can, with God’s help, to make a difference.’”

The Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen added that:

“Climate change cannot be a matter of indifference for any of us and we must not underestimate the seriousness of this. Behind this motion is a fundamental desire to see us, as a church, recover our prophetic edge.”

One speaker who opposed the motion said that “any efforts of the church would be the tiniest, tiniest drop in the ocean; no resources should be wasted on the endeavour”.

In reply, Enid Barron rhetorically asked: “As Christians would we be here today if a handful of disciples who witnessed Christ’s Resurrection had thought ‘we can’t make a difference’?”

Speaker after speaker underlined the seriousness and urgency of dealing with climate change, and the need for the Church to take a strong lead with positive and determined action.

The motion was passed with 279 in favour, 3 against with 4 recorded abstentions.

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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