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/ 24 January 2022

Record low carbon emissions from London churches

Once again, our churches in the Diocese of London have hit a new record low for carbon emissions generated from energy use in churches and church halls.

This is a great achievement reflecting the efforts of clergy, staff, and volunteers in churches all around the Diocese.  It is an important way to demonstrate care for God’s Creation, as well as to progress towards our target of net-zero carbon by 2030.

  • The new record for net annual CO2e emissions from fuel and power use was 14,400 tonnes. CO2e is shorthand for all our greenhouse gas emissions (‘carbon emissions’), translated into its equivalent weight of carbon dioxide;
  • This is 31.3% down from the 2005 figure. 2005 was the first year we measured.

The new figure for 2020 was after compensating for Covid lockdowns.  The actual net total was 10,300 tonnes, but we want to be able to make meaningful year on year comparisons.

These results form part of the national Church of England online Energy Footprint Tool (EFT), part of online Annual Parish Returns.  EFT recently won a National Energy Award for innovation. The work of analysing EFT results has taken a little time, due to Covid workload pressures.

  • Figures for 2021 will be entered during 2022. Watch out for our notice when the system opens to new entries during early Spring 2022.

Record-breaking EFT results

Here are some more figures after breaking down the above headline figures for improved energy efficiency:

  • Actual energy use in 2020 of churches and halls totalled 49.1 million kilowatt-hours (kWh);
  • The above figure includes 40.4 m kWh gas, 0.6 m kWh oil, and 8.1m kWh electricity;
  • After adjusting for Covid lockdowns, this is equivalent to an annual total of 65.6 m kilowatt-hours (kWh) in a ‘normal’ year;
  • This represents a 21.7% improvement in our churches’ energy efficiency since 2005.

The equivalent picture for carbon emissions (CO2e) is:

  • Actual gross emissions 10,900 tonnes (T) CO2e
  • Less renewable energy 650 T
  • Net total 10,300 T
  • Equivalent after covid adjustment 14,400 T.

Renewable energy

Our parishes and churches are encouraged to purchase energy on renewable tariffs (mainly electricity), and where possible to install renewable generation on site (especially solar panels). The breakdown for savings from the renewable energy totalled above is:

  • Renewable gas 1 tonne CO2e
  • Renewable electricity tariffs 560 T
  • Export from solar @ 50% of generation 90 T.

Ten of our churches reported generation from their solar panels.  As of 2020, St Paul Rossmore Road in North Marylebone (pictured) was one of the most recently installed.

Renewable tariffs and suppliers allowed for calculating these figures are from a select list checked out for their validity as renewable energy. A detailed explanation may be found here. 


One innovation in EFT for reporting results from 2020 was to allow reporting of offsetting by parishes. That included renewable tariffs entered into by parishes but not included in the list verified by the Church of England, and also other offsetting included in any energy tariff.  The total amount offset in this way was 1400T. If savings from offsetting are allowed, the overall improvement in efficiency compared to 2005 was 41%.

All the figures in this section and above are appropriately rounded, so they don’t always add up exactly. Addition, subtraction and percentages are done before rounding.


Results from EFT to parishes also assigned each church a band from A++ (tip top efficiency) to G (potential for improvement).

  • In London in 2020, comparing CO2e with building size, 6% scored A or better, 27% landed with B-D, 67% were at E-G
  • Comparing CO2e with numbers attending church and church events, 25% were at A or better, 23% at B-D, 52% scored E, F or G.

These are respectable results, especially considering the continuing trials and tribulations of Covid.

So we have much further to go, but we’ve made great progress already!

To learn more

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

For switching to renewable energy see Green Energy Suppliers.

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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